It was a good weekend for Milan, a rare thing in 2014-15. The Rossoneri beat Torino 3-0 at San Siro, the first time all season Il Diavolo had beaten a team by a three goal margin. Stephan El Shaarawy returned to the starting XI and instantly reminded fans of his offensive dynamism, scoring a brace in the victory.
While the result in a vacuum is nice, it is ultimately meaningless. Milan sit 10th, with no chance of securing European football while Filippo Inzaghi is crossing off days until he joins Clarence Seedorf on the unemployed payroll at Via Turati. A large portion of the Milan squad will return from loans or reach the end of their expiring contracts - everyone is just burning down the clock until summer.
However, it seems preparations have begun in earnest ahead of next season. Adriano Galliani, co-CEO of Milan, is headed to Madrid to meet with current Real tactician Carlo Ancelotti. According to numerous reports, dinner and diplomacy won't be the only thing that brings the two together. Galliani will sit down to dinner with Carlo and offer him the coaching position at Milan, with the promise of a budget that has eluded the Rossoneri in recent years. It seems that finally, the powers that be have finally become fed up with the mediocrity that has wracked this once great team and are willing to do something about it. Naturally, there are questions - and that's before we even consider if Ancelotti says yes (we'll get to that).
1) Budget? What budget?!
After several years of free contracts, fat trimming and lowballing from Milan and Adriano Galliani - reports suggest that this summer, the Rossoneri are legitimately prepared to pay money for players, something they haven't really done since the Robinho-Zlatan Ibrahimovic signings of 2010.
According to a collection of reports, the majority from Sky italia, Milan are prepared to put together a budget of around €100-150m in order to woo Carletto, with already identified targets of Monaco's Geoffrey Kondogbia, Atleti's Mario Mandzukic and Porto's Jackon Martinez. There have been whispers of a push for a Zlatan Ibrahimovic return to Milan, but without Champions League football the Swede is more likely to see out his deal in Paris.
It's all conjecture at this point, but most sources seem to agree that Milan are at the very least prepared to spend some money and swing for the fences target wise - the ambition, so far, seems positive.
2) But what about all those Chinese guys? Are they paying for it?
That's a great question. Although Silvio Berlusconi is still the owner of AC Milan - and an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport last week seems to indicate that won't change soon - there is still a strong possibility that an investor is brought on board to help fund the team for transfer activity and the eventual move out of San Siro.
Despite Thai investor Bee Taechauboul emerging as the favourite last month, it appears his inability to convince Berlusconi of the financial muscle needed to return Milan to prominence has left him "frozen out". It seems only XI Jinping, a consortium from the Chinese government, is the only still negotiating with the former Italian PM for the team. If those negotiations are successful, then they join the board as investors without a majority share, while giving the Rossoneri a pipe-line into a lucrative Chinese market. Meanwhile, Berlusconi is still top dog and can use the club to further any remaining political ambitions he has.
It's possible that Berlusconi has allowed Galliani to make such an offer to Ancelotti knowing he won't be the one fronting the cash - expecting a Chinese hand in the budget in the coming months. Time will tell.
3) How likely is it that Ancelotti says yes?
Right now, it seems like a hopeful shot. Although it is widely expected that Real Madrid will announce that the Italian is to be replaced by Napoli coach Rafael Benitez making the former PSG boss a free agent - Ancelotti's words to Il Giornale dampen the spirits of Milanisti somewhat.
"I will stop for a year, because I have very serious reason for stopping.
"I have to have an operation because of my cervical stenosis."
Ancelotti goes on to explain that the subsequent post-op will at the very least keep him out of a job on health sabbatical for a year, at least. Ancelotti loves Milan, confirming in the same interview "if I returned to Italy it would only be for Milan" but even he can't put his health aside to do so, especially for this particular Milan team. Galliani will need to be very convincing to even get Ancelotti remotely on board.
However, there's no reason to suggest Milan can't or won't offer this budget to the next managerial candidate, be it Unai Emery, Antonio Conte or Vincenzo Montella. Imagining Conte patrolling the sidelines while Kondogbia pulls on a Milan shirt is still a lovely image. At the very least, it appears that there will be a new coach (who has actual coaching experience) and a real transfer budget.
It could all be wrong, but it's nice to be optimistic.
Adriano Galliani is expected to fly from Linate airport in Milan at 13:00 CET while Real Madrid are expected to make an announcement at 19:30 CET. Hold onto your hats.