New beginnings. A new era. Call it whatever you like. Life at Barcelona is never going to be the same.
So, how were the blaugranes going to react without their talisman, Leo Messi? Without their focal point and the conduit through which everything seemed to pass through.
Messidependence or whatever... yada yada.
Well, actually, it was like the shackles had been thrown off. Barca played with a freedom and dynamism against Real Sociedad that was the equal, at times, of anything the team had done with Messi in situ.
If there was one criticism it was that, just like last season, the team ran out of steam towards the end and let La Real back in for a period. Though that’s being picky for the sake of it.
There was so much to be excited about, particularly in the opening 45.
Memphis continued his good pre-season form, dovetailing nicely with Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite.
His movement was sharp, his passing inventive and his work-rate excellent. Ditto Griezmann.
The Frenchman is one of those players most under pressure, but it’s worth pondering on the fact that he’ll probably be the most to benefit from Messi’s departure.
What he does for the team has never been in question, it’s his prowess in front of goal that has needed addressing.
Though he didn’t get on the scoresheet, it wasn’t for the want of trying, his acrobatic volley and glancing header onto the crossbar, just two moments where if luck were on his side, he’d have finished the game with a brace.
Pedri continues to delight, excel and surprise in equal measure. How can a youngster be that good with less than a week’s rest after playing a 73-game debut season?! It’s an absolute joke, it really is.
There were other standout performances too, and how apt that it should be Gerard Pique that got the ball rolling in the new season.
A delightful delivery from Memphis, and Pique’s untracked run enabled him to power home.
Coming so soon after the club made a real song and dance over how his salary reduction allowed the club to register the Dutchman, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj... it’s no wonder the Camp Nou rose to acclaim him.
They’ll be tougher days ahead of course. Horrible days most likely.
However, the green shoots of a long overdue recovery are there, with more youngsters coming through too.
It could be worse, right?