DID we take the Champions League for granted? I certainly did. Ironically I remember all too well the forgettable 1-0 home win over Hungarian side Debrecen in September 2009, how mundane and routine it all felt. Three points. Dirk Kuyt. Cheers.
Two weeks later we were thoroughly dismantled in Florence. What looked an ordinary, negotiable Champions League group became loaded with land mines. Consecutive late lapses against Lyon sounded the death knell.
Three months after the formality of Debrecen, Fiorentina performed an all-too-familiar smash-and-grab at Anfield and we were ruefully led to wonder: when will this glorious spectacle return? The optimists amongst us felt Rafa could navigate his way through those turbulent, tumultuous months in 2010, but 18 months felt like the logical answer even then. With league form unravelling and no end in sight to the gloom of Hicks and Gillett, a temporary exodus felt inevitable.
Nobody reckoned on five years.
Five years which has seen the landscape of European football almost irrevocably change.