Milan were just minutes away from a picture-perfect scenario.
Having taken it to Atletico Madrid for the majority of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 battle yesterday, in which Atletico also troubled Milan on several occasions, the Rossoneri were on the verge of getting the better result out of the two.
A misjudged clearance from substitute Ignazio Abate gifted Diego Costa, who was a few feet away from Christian Abbiati, and the Spaniard slotted the ball home to give his team an away-goal advantage at the San Siro.
Let it be known that Milan had obstacles to climb early. Apart from the fact that numerous first-team members were either suspended or out due to injury, they had to deal with the injury to Mattia De Sciglio early, and players such as Daniele Bonera and Andrea Poli were given the start despite their lack of consistency when it comes to appearances.
But, instead of pick pointing everything that went wrong and dissecting the game as a whole, it was a valiant effort from Milan -- who were more or less counted out and seen as the weaker team.
It is true that Mario Balotelli could have been a bit better yesterday, but at least Abdel Taraabt made up for his lack of thereof.
The ex-Premier League player shockingly tore apart Atletico Madrid in the midfield numerous times, and had the best dribbling skills out of anyone when he trounced by three players on the edge of the box.
There's still a worry that he may be playing in a position that it not suited for him, however with the absence of Kesuke Honda, he flourished in the attacking role. It was an amazing thing to watch as the young player, who disgruntled many fans by coming to Italy without much to show for it, became the best player on the field during the course of the game.
However, was he better than Kaka?
If Clarence Seedorf is looking for a leader, he should never take the captain's armband off of the Brazilian. Having played with Seedorf years ago, brining the club to UEFA Champions League glory in 2007, we were watching the Kaka of old involving himself into goal-scoring opportunities -- rather than just feeding those in front of him.
A golden opportunity for him was when he headed the ball into the left corner off of a Taraabt cross, but Thibaut Courtois made a miraculous save to deny the former Real Madrid star.
It makes you wonder if Chelsea will ride out Petr Cech for as long as they can, or if Courtois takes the reigns if he returns from his loan spell.
The defense held their own yesterday, and despite the atrocious Costa goal towards the end, they played alright. The midfield was even better, as Nigel De Jong and Michael Essien did everything in their power to handle their duties well in the middle of the pitch.
A scary thought is that without Ricardo Montolivo's presence yesterday, the squad did absolutely fine. The Poli-De Jong-Essien tandem was working just fine.
As for Abbiati, he had a good game minus the goal-scoring sequence. We can't blame him for a giveaway, but he should have done better on the goal. It was not far away from him, and you knew where Costa was going to go with the ball. You should never the blame the goalie, yet it was a weak goal. After all that buildup, that's the goal Atletico Madrid scores?
We could hang our head and think about the missed opportunities, like Adil Rami's shot going just inches wide away from the net on a free kick, or Balotelli hitting every wall possible with his free kicks; however, it was a surprise to see the Rossoneri go out on their shield.
Seedorf has his work cut out for him in the second leg, and who knows if the squad will look the same come the second game in Spain. We can only hope the Rossoneri score a goal early, and we can take it from there.
We may not make the tournament next year, but all fingers point to Milan getting gritty in the follow-up to salvage their worth in the tournament -- and show the world they are still the most successful Italian team when it comes to European competition.
It's not an impossible deficit to overcome, either.
If not, it's a long way back and it will be hard to look forward to the fight back to the top flight. Milan has to go for it, plain and simple.