Man City ready for European adventure
Wild boasts and missed chances, followed by pitch invasions, stadium fires and a shock early exit. Manchester City's only previous campaign in the European Cup was short, but it certainly wasn't sweet.
They have had to wait 43 years to put things right but, when City legend Mike Summerbee takes his seat at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to watch his old side make their Champions League debut, he is certain it will be very different this time.
As you might expect from a club ambassador and a man renowned for his partizan backing of the team he served for a decade, Summerbee is confident Roberto Mancini 's side will shine in their opening Group A game against Napoli and go on to show they belong among the European elite.
"The benchmark is Barcelona," Summerbee told me. "Can we compete? Yes. We were the last English team to win a trophy at the Nou Camp two years ago. I am not saying we are going to win the Champions League, but you never know. We have got a very strong side and lot of teams will be worried about playing us."
City fans have had to wait 43 years for a return to the European Cup. Photo: Getty
I should point out that Barca game was a friendly, though, so it probably just as well Summerbee is not getting too carried away with thoughts of being at the final in Munich next May. After all, that was the mistake City made in 1968.
Back then, Summerbee was an impudent England winger and one of the star men in a team who had just dethroned neighbours Manchester United as League champions, and now wanted their European crown too.
Outspoken assistant boss Malcolm Allison bullishly declared his side would "terrify the cowards of Europe" ahead of the club's first continental campaign, believing most foreign sides were too negative and could be blown away by attacking football.
Summerbee, who won every domestic honour during his decade at City from 1965 to 1975, had a shocker in the first leg, missing an open goal from six yards and being booed by his own fans. Worse was to come in Turkey after an 1,800 mile journey which was the longest any English side had made for a competitive match.
He prepared for it by getting married 24 hours before leaving Manchester, with George Best as his best man. Instead of jetting off on a honeymoon with new wife Tina, he climbed on to a specially-chartered Comet plane with his team-mates instead. "She understood," he smiles. "We are still together now so maybe we got off on the right foot."
Mike Summerbee spent ten years at Maine Road. Photo: Hulton Archive
If it sounds like an adventure, that's because it was. And a journey into the unknown too. Summerbee had played for his country, making his debut at a hostile Hampden Park earlier in the year, but had seen nowhere like the National Stadium in Istanbul. To say it was a culture shock would be an understatement.
"The game didn't kick off until the evening, but they opened the gates in the morning and it was full from 8am," he explained. "We were staying at the Hilton about two or three miles away in the hills but we could hear the fans and see the rockets they were letting off all day.
"It was a lovely place with friendly people but they were fanatical about their football. We quickly realised we were in very volatile situation and to be honest it was frightening.
"When we got to the ground, I remember there was a moat around it which I had never seen before. Then the dressing room windows were smashed and when we came out to play there were armed soldiers waiting for us. One of them pointed at me and said 'I look after you'."
Despite the intimidation, Tony Coleman put City ahead before half-time but Fenerbahce, rank outsiders, replied straight after the interval and scored what was to be the winner 12 minutes from the end. Cue the first pitch invasion of the night, and scores more fireworks set off in the stands.
At the final whistle, soldiers had to clear a path for the players to leave the pitch and more than a 100 fires were lit on the terraces around the ground. As Summerbee puts it: "I dread to think what would have happened if we had won. We probably would never have been seen again".
City are unlikely to get anything like as hostile a reception anywhere they play this time around, despite being drawn in a tough group with Bayern Munich and Villarreal as well as Napoli.
But then much has changed since City's first European trip. Mancini and his scouting team will know all their opponents inside-out but City had never seen Fenerbahce play before the tie and relied on a scouting report from former Everton striker Oscar Hold, who had managed the Turkish side a whole three years previously.
"It was a unique situation for all of us," Summerbee, who felt the lessons they learned helped City win the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup the following season, stated.
"But this is totally different. We have never played in the Champions League before but Mancini has experienced it as a player and a manager and all of our squad has played in Europe and at international level. We are ready."
Mancini will not be boasting like Allison did either, but there are some things his side do have in common with Summerbee's generation: a growing reputation for attractive football, and also an expectancy of more success.
"Roberto is a very strong-minded person and in his first year at City he was feeling his way a little bit," Summerbee added. "Now you can see what he was trying to build toward, which is playing magnificent attacking football.
"These are very exciting times for us. We just have to play the same way we are playing in the Premier League at the moment - I don't think we will have change that to make an impact in Europe and I am really looking forward to it."
Exciting times indeed. And, however City fare against Napoli, the fact they have to play six group games means their journey is guaranteed to last a lot longer than it did in 1968. It might even have a happier ending too.
Follow me on Twitter throughout the season @chrisbevan_bbc