Manchester United needed to produce a sensational performance to overcome European champions Bayern Munich last night and could not quite come up with the goods.
United have fallen at the quarter-final stage after not managing to get the second leg result they needed in the Allianz Arena.
Seven years ago however they managed to put on one of the finest displays in the history of the club to thrash Roma 7-1 in a Champions League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford.
It was a result and a performance that set the ball rolling for a group of players that would become Champions League winners.
United went into the second leg at Old Trafford on April 10 2007 looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg at the Stadio Olimpico – where Paul Scholes also saw red.
Crowd trouble before kick-off marred the start of the match, but once the whistle was blown, United were unstoppable.
After just eleven minutes, Michael Carrick put United in front with a sensational 25-yard curler past Roma keeper Doni.
A one nil win would have been enough to see Ferguson’s men through on the away goals rule but there was never any sign of them looking to sit back and defend.
Just six minutes after Carrick’s opener, Alan Smith was played in by Ryan Giggs and calmly struck the ball home to double United’s advantage and score his first goal in nearly 18 months.
The domination did not stop there as Wayne Rooney rounded off a brilliant team move just two minutes later before Cristiano Ronaldo netted twice either side of half time to put United 5-0 up on the night.
Carrick struck his second stunner of the night on the hour mark and although Daniele De Rossi pulled one back for Roma, Patrice Evra scored with nine minutes remaining to complete the rout.
It was one of the best performances Old Trafford has ever seen in Europe as United tore through a highly competitive team at will and it was a result achieved by a side on their way to their third European Cup a year later.
In 2007, United ran into another Italian side in the semis and a Kaka-inspired AC Milan were too strong for the Red Devils as Milan won the second leg 3-0 to progress to the final.
The Roma rout however was the standout memory of that European campaign for United.
A side, boasting eight Brits in the starting line-up, had put on a thrilling display of attacking football – sending a message to the rest of Europe that United were once again a threat in the Champions League.
Every side needs that standout moment – the moment where they set themselves on the road to glory.
David Moyes will have been hoping that last nights’ trip to the Allianz Arena could have provided that moment for his side.
For a long time it looked as though it might have been, before the might of the European champions proved too much for United.
While the Roma display of seven years ago was epitomised by free-flowing attacking football, last night was all about resilience and willpower.
Moyes set his side up to stop Bayern Munich – which was the right way to approach the game.
However the Scot will have felt he needed to go that way because United could not match Bayern in possession or attacking potential.
The 2007 team that tore Roma apart could have matched Bayern and that shows where United have come to over the last seven years.
Old Trafford witnessed a scintillating European display – the like of which this current crop struggles to produce.
It was a statement of intent from a squad that, with a couple of additions, would lift the Champions League against Chelsea in Moscow a year later.
United will not be in the Champions League next season as a result of their dismal display in the league this season.
The fans are experiencing a difficult time, but the memories of the great European nights under Sir Alex Ferguson are something to cling on to.
The Roma rout is one of the brightest of those memories.
Main image courtesy of Carl Recine/Action Images, with thanks.