Derek McInnes must have pondered over whether to laugh or cry when he saw who lies in wait should his Aberdeen side reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
Sporting Club de Portugal, often referred to as Sporting Lisbon by many, will play the winner of the Dons’ trip to Stavanger to face Viking FK in two weeks.
It’s a glamour tie for sure, but one fraught with danger. Make no mistake, if Aberdeen reach the play-off round this season it will easily be McInnes’s best achievement in his seven Europa League campaigns.
The good news for the Dons, should they get past Viking – a difficult game in its own right – is that the 50,080 capacity Estadio Jose Alvalada XXI will be empty, removing any chance of the game being played in an intimidating atmosphere, but it remains a daunting task regardless.
With 18 Portuguese League titles, 17 domestic cups and a European Cup-Winners’ Cup win among their achievements it should come as no surprise.
After all, this is a club with the distinction of having produced two Fifa world player of the year winners in Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But stars of years gone by are one thing, it’s the class of 2020 that will be occupying Dons fans’ thoughts.
Sporting are favourites due to their consistency in Europe and they have pedigree after reaching the last 32 of the Europa League last season.
Clearly, having beaten Rosenborg home and away and beaten PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in the group stages last season, they are no mugs, but they will be disappointed to have let a 3-1 home leg lead slip after losing 4-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in the last 32.
Every Aberdeen supporter should be keeping their fingers crossed that Spurs follow up their interest in Sporting’s Cape Verde international winger Jovane Cabral.
The 22-year-old missed the first half of the season due to injury but returned in style to score six goals and provide three assists from his 10 starts in the final 16 league matches.
One crumb of comfort for the Dons is the fact Sporting has been a club in disarray during the last 12 months. Former Portuguese international midfielder Ruben Amorim is the current man in charge at the club. The 35-year-old was appointed in March, replacing Silas, and in accepting the position he became the fourth manager at the club last season.
One would expect Amorim to be in the dugout by the time either the Dons or Viking make the trip to Portugal, but nothing is certain in what has been an unpredictable period for the hosts.
One thing is certain, however, for now Amorim has been given scope to make changes and he has half a dozen new faces in his squad.
Goalkeeper Antonio Adan has joined from Atletico Madrid while three new defenders are also on the books.
They are central defender Zouhair Feddal, who has joined from Real Betis, ex-Getafe left-back Vitorino Antunes and right-back Pedro Porro, who has joined the club on a two-year loan from Manchester City, who paid £11 million for his services from Girona in 2017.
Another man with experience of English football is central midfielder Pedro Goncalves, who had a spell at Wolves.
He has arrived from Famalicao with Nuno Santos, a left winger, completing the line-up following his £3.5m move from Rio Ave.
Clearly there have been changes galore. Aberdeen’s focus, quite rightly, is on Stavanger first of all, but they will be hoping – if they earn a trip to Portugal – that they catch a team not only playing their second competitive game of the season, but also one in transition.