Lionel Messi lit up Camp Nou and devastated Manchester United before firing a warning to Barcelona that they cannot start slowly again. Barca were superior to United in all departments for the best part of 80 minutes on Tuesday, a 3-0 win perhaps even flattering for their opponents, who were two down in 20, both goals belonging to Messi.
By the time Philippe Coutinho had curved in a third to send Ernesto Valverde's side into the Champions League semifinals, United's stirring opening was long-forgotten, except by Barcelona's captain.
"We put on a spectacle," said Messi. "But we came out cold and looked nervous in the first five minutes. We cannot come out like that in a Champions League match. Five bad minutes can knock you out. We have shown who we are," Messi added, and in some ways, they were a perfect picture of their season.
Thrust into a position of comfort by their mesmeric number 10, Barca put on an exhibition of attacking, possession football, all tricks, flicks and bicycle kicks. But there was also a nervousness at the start that suggests their desperation to win this tournament for the first time since 2015 does not weigh lightly.