Manchester United and Galatasaray served up a breathless and bruising encounter on Tuesday night in front of a ferociously partisan crowd at the Turk Telekom Arena.
The home side, thanks to Burak Yilmaz's 52rd-minute header, may have claimed the spoils – and, with them, kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout phase – but Sir Alex will have been pleased by the footballing education his young squad received.
Indeed, in many respects, the result in Istanbul was always going to be an afterthought for a United side that arrived in Turkey already through to the Last 16 as Group H winners.
This trip was about blooding the club’s youth – eight of the 21 players who travelled to Turkey arrived without a previous European appearance to their name – and opening their eyes to one of the most hostile atmospheres in European football.
And although Sir Alex’s future stars dodged the fiery welcome at Ataturk Airport on Monday night (police advice prompted a last-minute change of terminal after hundreds of Galatasaray fans descended on the building), there was no sidestepping what lay in store at the 55,000-capacity Turk Telekom Arena.
Even the noise generated in the warm-up made the loudest of English atmospheres seem tame. Galatasaray fans – drums beating, bodies bouncing – whistled, sung and chanted their way towards kick-off. When it came, they just kept going. With added flares, streamers and a giant 3D lion, of course.