Real Madrid were back in the Champions League after that fateful game in Manchester against City. Renewed spirits in the white house to face their favourite competition.
The 9 is still free, although Joselu is starting to look like the striker that the Benzema-less stands are longing for.
Against Union Berlin, Ancelotti's side arrived with the pressure of opening the Bernabeu with the Champions League anthem resounding against the retractable roof and no surprises, even with a very favourable scoreline, on paper. Ancelotti started with rotations to gauge which players are prepared to play a little and contribute a lot. Nacho, Tchouaméni and Lucas Vázquez were the new players in important positions due to the competition between the three of them.
Facing them were Union Berlin and more than 5,000 fans who gave colour to the Puerta del Sol in the morning and the new Bernabéu in the afternoon in the usual visitors' stand and spread across the rest of the seats.
Bonucci was the only familiar face, although the Italian showed he has not gone to Germany on holiday and gave the backline enough of a solid backline to defuse the White attack, with Ronnow, who has earned a recall to the Denmark national team, also making saves.
This Real Madrid are looking for the goal much more than last season, now they are doing it with crosses looking for Joselu's head or for Rodrygo to collect what the 14-footer brings down from the clouds. They are not Madrid's top scorers this season, but the way they are playing is enough to take all the points in the league and come to the Metropolitano for the Madrid derby.
Union Berlin's goal was saved time and time again. What Ronnow didn't stop, was saved by the sticks and the occasional defender who passed by with good fortune. The white aim failed and the public was nervous in the stands because on Tuesday Barça had beaten another of the Champions League minnows.
On the German side, Fofana and Volland squeezed Rüdiger and Lucas Vázquez now that Alaba has licence to go up and take free kicks whenever he wants. Kepa had little to do, although the nerves of his debut in the Coliseum made him hesitate on an overhead kick that Modric soon reproached him for.
Ancelotti could leave Real Madrid in June with a roster of new players ready for the future and the ability to give the veterans the minutes they need without a twitch. Modric and Kroos are now Camavinga's, Tchouaméni's and Valverde's revulsive. Either the Croatian or the German comes on in the final minutes to give mobility to the ball when the legs weigh down the rest.
And then there is Jude. The Englishman, touched by magic, already has his own space in Spanish football. Those final minutes where being active makes the difference. Bellingham sensed the 2-1 against Getafe and was in the right place in his first Champions League game in white. In the 93rd his long legs pushed in the 1-0, although Brahim was behind to correct the mistake of the man who, so far, never misses. England beat France in the quest for the goal in the King of Europe. It's not the 100 Years' War, but Jude is there and Kylian is not expected.