Ibrahimovic lets Milan dream before Conte's title-hunting machine expose brutal reality
When the Inter and Milan starting XIs lined up before a cacophonous San Siro on Sunday, there were all the usual sights.
Fierce, steely stares, necks being flexed, legs shaken out. Big-match anxiety writ large.
Then there was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, turning around wide-eyed to survey the scene and wearing a big grin.
Perhaps he knew all along. Or thought he did.
Ibrahimovic's return to this fixture was a blessing for Milan, largely because it diverted the attention away from the gulf that has opened up between themselves and their great rivals since Antonio Conte took charge of the Nerazzurri.
"He is a champion who gives Milan quality and charisma," Conte said of Ibrahimovic in the build-up, although even in acknowledging this he could scarcely have envisaged the first-half evisceration his title-aspirants would endure, before turning the tables to top the table with a 4-2 derby win for the ages.