The player Tottenham Hotspur sold to Real Madrid for a world record fee made his first start in Spain's famed derby.
Saturday night was the moment Gareth Bale's underwhelming start as a Real Madrid player could have been transformed.
Despite a goal on his debut, injury and a lack of spark have seen him fail to play to his full potential in a Real Madrid side which is very much in transition under Carlo Ancelotti.
So a chance to shine in El Clasico, the huge La Liga derby between Real Madrid and Barcelona was just what the doctor ordered to put things right.
There was however no fairytale script for Bale, as Barcelona won 2-1 with their big signing Neymar making the big impact with the opening goal.
The Welsh international played 61 minutes before he was hooked off for Karim Benzema, who almost made an immediate impact by crashing a shot against the bar.
Bale had started up front with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria either side of him, a role in which he had not yet played for the Spaniards.
He touched the ball a total of 34 times, which is high in the context of Cristiano Ronaldo (42) who played the full 90 minutes.
In terms of productivity it didn't pan out for him. Bale had two shots on goal but neither registered on target.
His pass completion accuracy in the face of tough pressing from the home side was a poor 57 per cent. Angel di Maria's was little better (59) but Cristiano Ronaldo completed 81 per cent of his passes showing his two fellow attackers up.
Bale put one cross into the box which failed to find a teammate, but did win five aerial duels although ultimately to little effect.
For a player for who so much is expected due to his world record fee, overall his display was an anonymous one, and the lasting memory of his El Clasico debut will be his glum face on the bench after being substituted.
It's quite the turnaround from his Premier League player of the year form, which isn't to say he won't recover it, simply that he is struggling to get back to that level at the moment.
Premier League side Tottenham were the team he left behind, £86 million richer, a sum of money that many Madrid fans may now be questioning.
Many Spurs fans will have decided to give El Clasico a miss this year so not to see the player who deserted them in action, but those who did certainly had a few words to say about his performance.
Here how fans of his former club reacted to Bale's display...
Seems to me Bale has got some hard work on his hands to win over his team mates. Can't say he wasn't warned #COYS— Nick Holman (@VillageTrundler) October 26, 2013
Every run Bale wanted to make, Ronaldo had already done. #coys— michael (@officialMKcoys) October 26, 2013
Gareth Bale looking like £85.5million well received at the moment. #COYS— David Mercatali (@DavidMercatali) October 26, 2013
Disappointed how many people including spurs fans want Bale to fail, been injured & no pre season. Come on we are better than that #COYS— Richard Barrett (@rich1979barrett) October 26, 2013
We're saying spurs players need time to adjust so maybe bale needs same credit to??????— Richard Bohm (@YiddyBohm) October 26, 2013
Did Bale move to Madrid too early, or is this just part of him getting to grips with life in Madrid?
image: © Jan S0L0