Munich - Cast your minds back to 19 May 2012. FC Bayern Munich have just lost another UEFA Champions League final, this time in front of their own fans. For some, the emotion is too much. The once immovable red machine looks like it is going to implode.
Now bring yourselves back to the present day. Casa FCB is still standing. Not only that, but it is thriving.
It goes without saying that Bayern have come a long way since the Finale Dahaom defeat to Chelsea FC. Just how far is something few expected. With their annus horribilis behind them, Munich's No1 club have not only restored order in Germany; but Europe as well. They are the team to beat.
That Borussia Dortmund managed to do so in the is merely academic, for Bayern are very much in a new stage of transition. Pep Guardiola, for one, readily admits that his FCB blueprint is a work in progress. Bayern have nevertheless put the frighteners up their fair share of opponents since the Catalan took charge, albeit without looking quite like the finished article.
Worryingly for the rest of Europe, it seems inevitable that Bayern will improve. Moreover, Guardiola's charges have the desire and ability to do so. After all, they went up gear after gear on a near-weekly basis last season, wrapping up the iconic Bundesliga plate in record time in the process.
Testament to the sheer force of willpower seemingly engrained in the Bayern DNA was the decision to recruit Guardiola in the first place, at a time when, under Jupp Heynckes, the Reds were comfortably on the road to the Bundesliga title at the very least. Yet the boardroom did not want to run the risk of being labelled a one-hit wonder. They craved longevity at the highest level of the game. Guardiola, a young and decorated coach in his own right, would be the man to deliver.
To even be in a position to succeed, however, Guardiola requires a firm foundation - one meticulously constructed from the rubble of Bayern's infamous collapse at Chelsea hands. Propped up by a layer of collective resolve and with Dante, Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic providing further tiers for development, the product left behind by his predecessor is a feat of structural engineering.
Throw in Mario Götze and Thiago Alcantara, and Guardiola now has all the tools necessary to mould his own red fortress. Bulldozing Chelsea in the would be another telling step in that process.