Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League defeat to Juventus should be a major learning curve as the North Londoners look to challenge for honours over the coming seasons.
Spurs looked to be in control of the tie at 1-0 up with an hour gone on Wednesday night, but two goals in three minutes from the visitors gave them a 2-1 win at Wembley and 4-3 triumph on aggregate.
And whilst the loss will be painful in the coming days and weeks, it can be used to shape how Mauricio Pochettino and his players approach these types of clashes in the future.
A 2-2 draw in Turin three weeks ago put Tottenham in pole position to qualify for the quarter-finals and few would have bet against them given the way they started the return leg.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both went close before the latter scuffed home the opener five minutes before half-time.
The Lilywhites continued to dominate after the interval, but a tactical switch from Massimiliano Allegri in the opposing dugout caught the home side off guard and as they struggled to readjust, Juve struck.
Paulo Dybala’s header was cleverly guided into the corner by Gonzalo Higuain and the striker returned the favour minutes later, sliding in his Argentina team-mate to finish emphatically past Hugo Lloris.
It was a lesson in counter-punching and Spurs never recovered, with the Old Lady comfortably soaking up pressure until the final whistle, save for a late header from Kane which struck the post.
Tottenham can, however, take comfort from the fact that for large periods they were able to match the illustrious Italians in most departments and on another day could easily have gone through themselves.
These occasions either result in victories or valuable experiences and those in white should emerge more rounded players after a difficult night.
The presence of Toby Alderweireld was arguably missed at the back; the Belgian still isn’t fully fit and although Davinson Sanchez has enjoyed a stellar first season in England, it was his mistake in rushing out to close down Higuain that allowed the former Real Madrid man to play in Dybala for the decisive strike.
Naivety was also a factor; Spurs’ willingness to continue attacking despite holding a two-goal advantage backfired and the Serie A champions showed greater organisation and discipline after taking the lead themselves.
Moreover, despite dominating possession and territory, the Premier League outfit certainly rode their luck over the two legs.
Higuain’s missed penalty at the Allianz Stadium would have made the score 3-1 and could have completely changed the outlook of the return fixture, whilst on Wednesday Jan Vertonghen somehow got away with conceding another spot-kick when he tripped Douglas Costa with the game level at 0-0.
And although Kane’s header in the dying moments rolled back across the line after hitting the upright, the linesman failed to spot that the England star was clearly offside as Ben Davies’ cross came in.
All in all, Juventus made the most of the fine margins that often decide these encounters and Tottenham can have few complaints about the outcome.
Efforts can now be concentrated on the FA Cup and a top-four push, with the true test of this team’s credentials being how they recover from such a setback.