At last! The trees have been removed and Manchester City can finally see the wood.
With a Champions League group containing Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen, Manchester City have avoided the "group of death" for the first time.
Considering at one stage, being matched up with Barcelona and AC Milan, or Real Madrid and Juventus, was a possibility, fans will rightly be feeling upbeat on reflection.
of course, if past performances are anything to go by it would be tempting to refer to any group that contained City anyway as the group of death.
But now they have renewed hope. They actually fared quite well against Bayern last time out. Winning 2-0 at the Etihad, (Bayern had already qualified by this time), and losing narrowly in Munich on a night remembered far more for Carlos Tevez "refusing" to play. So expect a couple of close games.
The biggest test in Moscow will be the plastic pitch. I don't hold with the weather being a problem. It can get almost as bad in England. If City can get a draw out there I fully expect them to win in Manchester.
The unknown quantity is Viktoria Plzen. In 2011 they won a match in the Champions League for the first time yet ended up in the Europa League. The following year, having qualified for the last 16 of the Europa league, they were knocked out by Fenerbahce. I don't expect them to be a problem, but you never know.
Maybe the biggest advantage City have this year is Manuel Pellegrini. At least he knows how to get to the latter stages of this competition. Roberto Mancini tried and failed with both Inter and City.
If City do get out of the group stage, who knows, but a run to the semi-finals could even be a good target to aim for.
City fans do you feel positive this time around?
image: © geetarchurchy