Last night saw the start of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League Group Stage proper - and the beginning of Bayern Munich’s defence of the drown they won so dominantly last season.
And their performance in the first Champions League tie of Pep Guardiola’s reign as Bayern boss went exactly to plan - with goals from David Alaba, Mario Mandzukic and Arjen Robben enough to see them through to a comfortable 3-0 triumph over CSKA Moscow.
But while all that was occurring the presence of one player in the CSKA line-up was always going to cause something of a stir. That player was Keisuke Honda.
Honda is available on a free-transfer from the Russian outfit in January, when his contract in Russia expires - and he has already made it clear that he wishes to move on in the winter.
But his starting role yesterday brings up questions as to where exactly he could end up.
The team most strongly linked with him over the past few months have been AC Milan - who even tried to agree his early release from his contract this summer.
But the deal never came off, and despite widespread reports he will be heading to Italy in a few months the player himself denied any deal was a foregone conclusion, as he considers several other options.
But the fact he played against Bayern yesterday may now make him more likely to end up on Merseyside.
Because he is now cup-tied for the rest of the Champions League campaign - leaving AC Milan and Arsenal surely doubtful as to whether he is a viable option for the rest of their campaigns.
The fact that Everton and Liverpool are not in European competition this season could in fact give them the edge in approaching the player, especially since he will cost nothing as a free agent.
Of course the reality is that as a freebie both Arsenal and Milan would be willing to bring him in regardless of his potential lack of involvement in Europe before 2014-15.
But in this tough race for one of Europe’s last remaining genuine steals the Merseysider’s have just been given a little glimmer of light.
image: © tpower1978