Baptism of fire

Munich - The stage was set with 18,000 souls crammed into the Trolli Arena for an event the Bavarian club had waited an eternity for. All that was lacking was the corresponding performance from the lead protagonists on the field to match the fever off it.

Illustrious names

Meeting the class genius on your first day at school is an intimidating feeling, though, and Fürth's timidness was understandable - after all this was FC Bayern Munich they were facing.

Seeing the likes of Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger strutting their stuff is something the fans at the Trolli Arena will have to get used to. Besides, it is precisely what they have been pining for during the last two decades of near misses. No fewer than eight times had Fürth come agonisingly close to promotion on the final day of the season only to lose out, sometimes even in the final minutes. This was the first of 34 rewards for a long and painful journey.

For 43 minutes, the fans were anticipating more than just a memorable experience too, but once Thomas Müller's shot rippled the net, it was goodnight Greuther. "It was frustrating," admitted full-back Bernd Nehrig. "We had played a really decent first half, but then to concede such a goal in the 43rd minute was a real blow."

Mountain to climb

The goal meant Fürth had to abandon their defensive tactics, emerge from their shells and try to attack their opponents. That is a lot easier said than done against the record title holders. Coach Mike Büskens had beaten Bayern before, but that was when he was in charge of Schalke 04. For all his wisdom in the dressing room at half time, there was only so much Fürth could put into practice over the second 45 minutes.

"Bayern have such individual class to exploit the yard or two that we were lacking," continued Nehrig. "They were as cool as ice." A 3-0 defeat was nevertheless a disappointing start to life in the top flight and a result Fürth will be keen to put behind them. The light at the end of the tunnel is that things can only get better - they are not going to face Bayern every weekend. "There are a lot of positives we can take from our first half, while the second half was a learning curve too," added Nehrig. "At the end of the day, we were playing against the best side in Germany."

Off their Trolli

If the 18,000 fans inside the Trolli Arena can show the same backing for their 11 heroes on the field for each of their remaining 16 home matches this season, the aim of avoiding relegation could still be a realistic one. Emulating Bavarian rivals Augsburg is the objective and they had to wait nine games for their first Bundesliga victory last season.

Yet despite the defeat, it was still a day to remember for everyone involved. "It was great fun," said Nehrig. "The fans were great and gave us fantastic support."