In April 2003, United were faced with the formidable task of overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Real's galácticos, having been outplayed at the Bernabeu a fortnight earlier.
But the Reds’ dream was shattered by a superb hat-trick from Brazilian star Ronaldo, who received a standing ovation from the home support when he was later substituted.
In between the striker’s sumptuous treble, Ruud van Nistelrooy and an Ivan Helguera own goal gave Sir Alex’s men a glimmer of hope. And David Beckham, omitted from the starting line-up, came off the bench to score twice and put United ahead on the night.
But the damage had already been done. United lost the quarter-final tie 6-5 on aggregate and 66,000 fans went home with the strange sensation that accompanies a glorious defeat: pride but wonder at what might have been.
This time round, United are slightly in the ascendency after the first leg and a 4-3 win would suit us fine, even if it features another virtuoso display by a man named Ronaldo…