It is in matches such as last night’s between Eintracht Frankfurt and Aberdeen where the real disconnect in modern day European football becomes most apparent.
For the players, it presents primarily the chance to be rewarded for months of earnest effort by losing to a continental powerhouse. At worst a chastening experience; at best a learning one.
Yet for the fans, almost irrespective of the score, the event itself is a prize beyond measure.
At season’s end and as the years roll by, memories of the trip to Frankfurt and an evening in this tremendous arena will endure as highlights of the adventure lived through their club.
Yes there will be snippets of in-game reminiscence – Dante Polvara’s will likely be a name ever tied to this night, as Josh Walker’s is to the Dons’ last brush with German giants – but most of the future conversations generated will focus on songs sung, sights seen and saloons shared.
There is merit in each, and though Aberdeen fell agonisingly short of receiving a highly unexpected deposit in their points column, they nonetheless come home with just about the best of both plausible worlds.
It was hardly a secret that the Dons needed practise defending, and they got a good shift of it here.
It will certainly not be one of the moments long spoken of in Aberdonian hostelries, but the gusto with which the team celebrated its extended period of terrifically-drilled resistance prior to Kelle Roos’ outstanding save from the offside Paxten Aaronson – all 10 outfield players latticed into an area no bigger than the penalty box – showed they knew what they had to prove here, and that they were doing so.
A worthwhile trip for all of a Dons persuasion. Hopefully there are more to come in the Conference League, and spin-off benefits in domestic performances.