The general consensus of the footballing world seems to be that Manchester City have to beat Barcelona in order to prove just how great a footballing side they really are.
Blessed with pace, creativity and goals, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have already beaten holders Bayern Munich on their way to the last 16 of the tournament, lying down the gauntlet to Europe’s elite in the process.
They have spent largely financially, and have the players to sustain a European assault in the long term even if their quest for this year’s Champions League trophy ultimately proves unsuccessful.
It is for this reason that the Manchester side have less to prove than their Catalonian rivals.
Barcelona may have waltzed to a fourth La Liga title in five years last campaign, but the 7-0 aggregate battering by Bayern Munich last May has highlighted the growing power shift in football.
Despite boasting the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Andres Iniesta, Gerard Martino’s side look a shadow of the team that won two Champions League trophies in three years under Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.
The football may still bewitch and sparkle, but there is no doubt they have slumped from the summit in recent years.
Inter Milan in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012 may have bettered them by the skin of their teeth and defensive courage, but there was something symbolic about the way Bayern blitzed them to pieces last season.
Some will point to Neymar's arrival in the summer, which added Brazilian skill and brilliance, as a sign of continuing strength, but Barcelona’s vulnerability lies in other positions.
Reported Monaco target Victor Valdes has never entirely convinced despite being a regular in the team under Guardiola, whilst age has depleted the powers and contribution of long-serving players Xavi and Carlo Puyol.
Even Messi, untroubled for the majority of his stunning career, has succumbed to a recurring hamstring injury over the past year that has majorly influenced the form of both club and country.
The notion that Barcelona are a team in decline was shared by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who has enjoyed a turbulent relationship with his former employees for a number of years.
"I think this Barcelona side are the worst for many, many years," the Portuguese said on Monday.
"Of course by history Barcelona is the favourite, but this Barcelona, this season, is showing it is not the same in previous years."
If City progress, it is a giant step towards a new footballing empire.
It would also mean an end of one over in Barcelona.
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