The longest journeys begin with the smallest steps. And last night was a successful start in what could be the first of seventeen matches in this seasons Europa League where all directions lead to Lansdowne Road.
Very much a contrast to Saturday's draw with Tottenham, with Timisoara for the most part failing to seize the initiative or make home advantage count. Maybe it was the first experience of a side not only playing against the side, but also the reputation. If so, this could be an important aspect of the European campaign where the bookies at least have us amongst the front runners.
The performance was still not ideal, patchy in parts but definitely more cohesive than at White Hart Lane. A lack of width may well have hampered creativity to some degree - not only were the front more central looking but the full-back pairing, all change with Joleon Lescott in for the injured Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta replacing Micah Richards, not the greatest allies to attacking football.
An impressive aspect of Mancini's spell after taking over last season was his willingness to make changes. Not tied to a formation or line-up, he is not averse to switching things up or calling on the bench if the situation demands. To that extent, last night was again a success.
At 0-0, the stage was set for Mario Balotelli and a brief cameo saw him impact upon the side, score the winning goal, pick up a yellow card and hobble out of the stadium after picking up a knock. Some introduction. Balotelli was obviously the headline grabber, and it was hopefully evidence enough that he can settle into the side quickly.
Whilst not an unassailable lead, 1-0 should be more than enough to ensure progress, although it doesn't afford the luxury of wholesale changes for the return leg. Hopefully though, a clinical start should all but end the tie early and eyes can turn to the group stages.