Can Arsenal turn Barca tide?
As Arsenal's players and management formed an orderly queue to declare their desire to face Barcelona in the Champions League, an old adage played on many lips: "Be careful what you wish for."
The bold declarations also carried a hollow sound, coming as they did after Arsenal had edged unconvincingly into the last 16 with victory in their final group game against Partizan Belgrade.
And who can forget last season's dismantling of the Gunners by Lionel Messi and co?
Inevitably, Arsenal were handed a tie against the Barcelona side manager Arsene Wenger had already labelled as "super favourites" to reclaim the Champions League they won in such style against Manchester United in Rome in 2009.
Arsenal have certainly been handed the toughest draw of all four Premier League representatives. Spurs will be severely examined by another trip to the San Siro when they face AC Milan, while Manchester United and Chelsea will be hopeful of progress against Marseille and FC Copenhagen.
It is Arsenal's latest confrontation with Barcelona, however, that fires the imagination - even among those at the Nou Camp. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique both fired instant Twitter messages in the direction of countryman Cesc Fabregas.
And for the game's purists as well as those fortunate to spend the glorious night of 31 March last year at the Emirates, these are two games that cannot come soon enough.
The first 20 minutes produced by Barcelona will live forever in the memory, the Catalans enjoying 75% of possession and Arsenal's portion seemingly accounted for by saves from goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.
Just as memorable was the character shown by Arsenal in coming from two goals down to somehow fashion a draw from a game in which they were outclassed for long periods.
Arsenal's players have privately craved this draw since qualification insisting they have no fear of Pep Guardiola's superstars, although in their heart of hearts Schalke 04 would surely have been their preferred opponents.
Messi's magic left Arsenal in tatters. Photo: Getty Images
"Realistically, Barcelona are super favourites in this competition but you take what you get," said Wenger. "If it's Barcelona, it's Barcelona. We have played them already last season. We are in a strong position in the Premier League, qualified in the Champions League and in the semi-final of the Carling Cup. We have plenty of exciting challenges but also room for improvement. I am confident we will improve."
And as he gazed into his crystal ball before the draw and successfully predicted its eventual outcome, he said: "If I say we want Barcelona, you won't believe me. I don't even think about it. I hope we get who I feel we will get."
Theo Walcott is equally bullish, insisting: "I would love to go back there and show them what we are all about this season.
"I think we have had great experience and now we can progress. The team has improved, new personnel have come in and we've been fortunate with injuries this season. We want to win some silverware for the fans because they have waited too long.
"As long as we don't get Barcelona on a day when they play Real Madrid and win 5-0. They were fantastic that day. It doesn't matter to us. We will play anyone, we will enjoy ourselves and try to win the game."
Arsenal's stance is perfectly understandable. They were hardly going to make public any private terrors or demons they may have about facing a team that produce fantasy football on a regular basis.
For all the optimism, however, will the outcome be any different this time? Wenger, and rightly so, will believe Arsenal can flourish against a Barcelona side that will allow them to play their natural game.
Arsenal have the creation and imagination to examine Barcelona thoroughly but they will have to stand toe-to-toe with a world-class collection of players perfectly equipped to beat them at their own game.
The problem for Arsenal is that their natural game is effectively a Barcelona-lite. Personnel may change between now and when the sides meet but a confrontation between any Arsenal defence and any Barcelona attack would appear to be a worrying prospect for Wenger, irrespective of who plays.
Arsenal will take solace from the manner in which Walcott's pace unsettled Barcelona last season but Wenger will hope Thomas Vermaelen can be restored to full health to strengthen his options to tackle Messi and David Villa. Arsenal's defence looks suspect in the hands of Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci.
For the neutral, it is a dream draw. The game at the Emirates last season was a classic, a meeting of cultures and philosophies between Wenger and Guardiola.
Spurs, Arsenal's north London neighbours, will be back on familiar territory when they face Serie A leaders AC Milan. Harry Redknapp's side were impressive in qualification, never more than when they blitzed holders Inter 3-1 on a memorable night at White Hart Lane.
The two games with Rafael Benitez's side encapsulated the pros and cons of Tottenham's Champions League campaign. Goals for are as guaranteed as goals against, as proved in the 4-3 win defeat in the San Siro, and they will see weaknesses that can be exposed in Milan's rearguard.
Spurs will be a threat to anyone left in the competition at White Hart Lane but that fragile defence will need tightening if the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alex Pato, Robinho and company are to be kept at bay.
Redknapp, like his Arsenal counterparts, was in optimistic mood as he said: "I would have taken AC Milan before the draw. They are leading the league in Italy but it has the makings of a great game over two legs. I'm looking forward to it."
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be satisfied to meet Marseille, who will be testing opponents but hardly an insurmountable obstacle. It will mark a return to Old Trafford for Gabriel Heinze, who left United for Real Madrid in acrimonious circumstances in 2007 after a failed bid to force a move to Liverpool.
United will have no room for complacency as Marseille proved their threat by beating Chelsea in the group phase. The atmospheric Stade Velodrome will be alive with passion as Marseille continue their renaissance under coach Didier Deschamps but United will feel they have enough in their armoury to reach the last right.
Chelsea themselves can have no complaints about pulling FC Copenhagen out of the bag, a draw that was about as good as coach Carlo Ancelotti could have expected given that the Danish champions are widely regarded as one of the weakest sides left in the Champions League.
Copenhagen have a formidable record on home territory but Chelsea will feel their chances are improved even further by the fact that the tie takes place during the Danish League's winter break.