|Robin van Persie, during practice, on Monday
London: Experienced as they are there will still be a few first-night nerves this week as Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho set off on new Champions League journeys with plenty to prove and reputations to polish.
Each with two Champions League triumphs on their managerial CVs, two of them are attempting to work their European magic in new surroundings while the third has returned to the club at which the continent’s biggest club prize proved elusive.
With so many Champions League masterminds among the 32 coaches setting off this week, Manchester United’s David Moyes and Barcelona’s new coach Gerardo Martino look like rookies in comparison as they prepare for their first ventures in the group stages of the tournament.
After a year-long sabbatical, having twice taken Barcelona to European glory in a glittering reign, Guardiola has arrived at Bayern Munich tasked with retaining the trophy won in such style by Jupp Heynckes in May.
Ancelotti, after his brief stay at Paris St Germain, will be expected to deliver Real Madrid’s 10th European Cup without delay, having twice led Milan to the summit.
Guardiola’s Bayern open the defence of their crown at home to CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid will unleash Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in Turkey against Galatasaray while Chelsea face Swiss side FC Basel at Stamford Bridge.
Martino has started life confidently at the Nou Camp and with Lionel Messi already having scored six league goals and with Brazilian Neymar about to make his Champions League bow.
Moyes will have a tough baptism with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen first up on Tuesday in a group that also contains Real Sociedad and Ukraine champions Shakhtar Donetsk.