Boy, was the atmosphere different that 1999 night. Those of us who braved the knifewielders of Turin went as condemned men, fearing the worst after Zidane and Davids had totally outplayed us at Old Trafford.
But Ryan Giggs had scored a late goal that first leg night which would prove to be a massive help as the miracle of the Stadio Delle Alpi unfolded with Roy Keane at his selflessly indomitable best.
Will the late goal by Wayne Rooney last week serve a similar function tonight?
After the initial euphoria of the win last Tuesday, a certain amount of hard-nosed realism has become fashionable with Kaka’s potentially double-counting double being cited as an almost insuperable obstacle.
But then you watch a ridiculous game like that at Goodison Park on Saturday and you realise that we can do anything, if Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney are on fireand Fortune (the Lady, not Quinton) backs them too.
Yes, it’s my favourite old record, but you cannot begrudge me pointing out once more to all those wise cracks who have been slagging Wayne and who had Ronaldo down as a showpony for the past two seasons that they were utterly, comically, wrong.
As I wrote back in September when I put my bet on for a United CL/PL double — at odds rather longer than 4-1, of course! — these two can drag a sub-standard squad to any level, so all-encompassing is the Boy Wonder Effect.
To be strictly fair to the squad tiddlers, both O’Shea and Eagles will feel they proved a point with their goals, O’Shea in particular becoming a noted Scousebuster on the goals front.
Mind you, Diego Forlorn used to specialise in a similar cameo on Murkeydive when he was a clowning Red, so it doesn’t prove much. Still, fair play to the Pieman for his alert response to kickstart the fightback of the season.
You still hope, nonetheless, that if we get to the final tonight, we don’t have to rely on him in an Athens lineup, a nervy wish that also applies to several of his squadmates, to be frank.
Above all, we want Vidic back, whose market value just doubled during an absence which has truly made the Red heart grow fonder.
If Rio is worth €45m, what price this Titan?
Hats off to Fergie, who can cite the Serb as one of his greatest buys since, umm, Jaap Stam, whom in effect Vidic has replaced. It’s a very Fergie-ish swap isn’t it? — one of his biggest selling errors redeemed almost fully by one of his greatest canny buys.
Ah Fergie, we will so miss such maddening, then delighting, idiosyncrasies when he goes.
These could be his last few games as our boss, a possibility few seem to have noted.
After all, if he does the Treble, would even he baulk Sinatresquely at the obvious opportunity to depart at an almost unparalleled zenith?
Woah, talk about getting ahead of oneself. These next four days could also be the Treble-wrecking hours: elimination tonight is still, rightly say the bookies, the likelier option.
A deflated team would then face a derby against a side relieved of relegation fears and, after not scoring at home for124 days, how like Cityit would be to celebrate their escape by sticking three in our net, thus setting Chelsea up forthe coup de grace next week?
For if there’s one outfit even more absurdly capricious than us, it’s that potless shower of cretins at Wastelands. So, steady out there on the Giddyometer.
If Fergie wins my bet for me, I won’t have to work a day all summer long, but I ain’t booking any holidays just yet.
Although I do have an Easyjet seat reserved for Athens. Ahem...
By Richard Kurt, whose “Red Army Years” is republished in May.