Manchester City’s missing link has always been the Champions League – tantalisingly out of reach among the blizzard of domestic domination under manager Pep Guardiola and his predecessors.
After a two-leg victory over Real Madrid, and the convincing manner in which it was accomplished over the course of almost six months, City will never have a better chance to fill that gap in their trophy room and finally achieve the ultimate goal of their Abu Dhabi-based ownership.
City were simply too good for Real, who are admittedly not the force they were, as they inflicted a first Champions League knockout defeat on manager Zinedine Zidane, a three-time winner.
There still remains real quality in the competition in the shape of the usual powerhouses Barcelona and Bayern Munich, quality that will decorate the new one-leg knockout format as the Champions League closing stages now move to Lisbon. Other serious threats await in Portugal.
Yet City, in this mood, will feel they can match anyone over one game – even if there must also be caution because we have seen City capable of bad days in the Premier League this season.
This feels, however, more like City’s time and their best opportunity than in previous seasons, with Liverpool disposed of by the dangerous Atletico Madrid while Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo have been removed by Lyon, the next opponents for Guardiola.