It almost seemed like the script was written for the Manchester United offshoots to follow in the Europa League final with Inter Milan.
In the end, United could not hold the end of the deal and lost to Sevilla on Sunday evening. Inter faced Shakhtar Donetsk on Monday without seeking revenge for many of their squads.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decides to tune in on Monday, Ashley Young and Alexis Sanchez's players will be almost unrecognizable on the pitch. Romelu Lukaku will stand out more than most.
Solskjaer showed no opposition to selling Lukaku to Inter last summer for £ 73m, a club record for the Serie A team.
Romelu Lukaku has revived his career at Inter Milan and now has a trophy in sight
With the full support of Chef Antonio Conte (right), Lukaku is now back in top form
Before leaving for Milan, Lukaku (2nd right) was accused of being overweight at United
& # 39; I am very confident that we will score goals from (Anthony) Martial and (Marcus) Rashford. Dan James will do it and Jesse Lingard will get more, ”said Solskjaer when asked why he allowed an exit without a direct replacement.
Both Martial – 23 in all competitions – and Rashford – 22 in all competitions – increased their returns after Lukaku's departure, but neither came close to handling the Belgians' rolling 31 goals for the season.
James only managed four goals – only one since the turn of the year – while Lingard rose from five goals in Lukakus last season at Old Trafford to four this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer approved the sale as he preferred a free flowing attack on three
But in a 3-5-2 system, Lukaku is thriving and has 31 goals and counts for this season
While he shone in his first year at the San Siro, he wasn't quite as impressive as Brazilian Ronaldo, who made 34 in his debut season 1997-98.
Lukaku was in a class of his own in Serie A despite all the ridicule and criticism of his weight gain in Manchester.
His goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Shakhtar in Germany resulted in nine direct Europa League games in which he scored one goal.
So what has changed other than the obvious?
The key points are: Playing in a 3-5-2 system designed especially for him, plays under a manager in Antonio Conte, who firmly believes he has the best striker in the world, and Lukaku eventually got answers about his weight gain.
His partnership with Lautaro Martinez (left) was crucial as he works a lot on the ball
One of the first things Conte did was secure an appointment for Lukaku with a specialist to understand why he had climbed to over 100 kg.
The nutritionist reportedly did such a thorough analysis of the Belgian striker that it even checked the breakdown of his body waste, according to ESPN.
It seemed like a crazy length, but this was the club's record buy and if they wanted to win titles and now dethrone nine-time Serie A champions Juventus it was nothing.
It turned out that Lukaku had a digestive problem and a change in diet was in order. Fried foods were gone, as were potatoes and alcohol – although the latter was a moot point as Lukaku is total tea.
By the end of the first month – and he'd scored a goal on his Serie A debut with Inter against Lecce – he'd thrown half a stone. Others followed. The diet worked, Lukaku looked great and felt great. It also showed.
Vegetables, fish and noodles became Lukaku's new normal – a perfect mix of protein and carbohydrates to keep you lean too.
But Lukaku deserves credit for the work he did long before he arrived to make this move a success. It's more than just changing the ingredients on your plate.
While Lukaku was Public Enemy . 1 at Old Trafford when he was struggling as a lone striker, he was busy off-field learning Italian. Languages seem natural to him as he speaks French, Spanish, English, Portuguese and also a little German.
It made his transition on the pitch smooth and enabled him to express his true feelings – good and bad – for the 90 minutes that mattered most in any given week.
The formation counter was also key. At United he was the center of a 4-2-3-1 for most of the time, but that was thrown out at Inter in favor of Conte's preferred 3-5-2.
Lukaku was thus a partner of the Argentine star Lautaro Martinez. For the first time in his career, Lukaku shared the box with another Orthodox number 9, and the rewards have been more fruitful than many could have predicted.
There was no bedding at the time, no communication problems between the two. They got so in sync that both Lukaku and Martinez once wore the same outfit for a game.
With the disturbing Mauro Icardi expelled to Paris Saint-Germain, Conte's entire system was designed to get the best out of his two front men.
Lukaku and Ashley Young (right) are now ready to come back and pursue their old side
The Belgian was scrutinized in Manchester and lost the support of the United fan base
Lukaku's 31 goals were supplemented by 19 from Martinez. Scoring a point ahead of Juventus in Serie A is an obvious disappointment, but a total of 50 goals from the two stars on this team bodes well for the future.
And while Martinez's numbers are way below his batting partner, the work he does off the ball is just as important as any other factor when it comes to Lukaku's Milan resurgence.
The Argentine will do whatever Lukaku won't, and the space that this creates – provided defenders know he poses such a threat himself – has opened up ample opportunities for Lukaku to punish him.
This selflessness is priceless. At United there was neither the connection nor the willingness to build everything around Lukaku. In retrospect, Old Trafford would only have gotten worse if that move had never happened.
The test at United is immense, probably one of the most intensive clubs from the media side in the whole world.
He's loved at Inter and has thrived under Antonio Conte's system designed to help him score
Conte wants him to stay hungry as he prepares for two Europa League finals
In Italy this pressure ends up at the feet of Juventus. It allowed Lukaku to change scenery, make a fresh start, and in a system designed to maximize his target return, it wasn't a shock to feel at home.
w the challenge is to finish it off with a trophy.
"It's up to him and his desire to improve," Conte told Inter TV after beating Getafe in the round of 16.
"The most important thing is that each of us is hungry, to raise the bar and try to keep growing."