When the Premier League calendar was announced last summer, nobody would have predicted the significance of Tottenham’s late-season fixture at home to Crystal Palace.
Had it been billed as one of the most important days in Spurs’ recent history, it might have been assumed that they were taking the title race right down to the wire.
Instead, the moment has arrived when at long last, they will finally open the new stadium in N17. It will be the first time many of their fans have returned to the area in almost two years.
The unmistakable click of the turnstiles has fallen silent, replaced by automated beeps. The cranes have been taken down, the golden cockerel re-homed and in its place, a new replica installed on top of the single-tier South Stand.
A place of self-pouring pints, mobile apps, and dressing rooms which will play home to the NFL. The cheese room turned out to be a myth, but the glass tunnel and retractable pitch are very much part of the club’s venture into uncharted territory.
Daniel Levy has seemed acutely aware throughout that, long after he and ENIC have departed, this will be their legacy.
When they took the reins from Alan Sugar in 2001, becoming majority shareholders for just £22million, they embarked on a 20-year plan. Its two main goals were to secure regular Champions League football - tick - and to oversee the building of a new stadium. Tick.
For all its delays - and it’s hard to overlook that the ground was originally scheduled to open in September - Tottenham have created something truly spectacular. It will look all the more impressive come 19:45 on April 3, when they kick off under the lights promising one of their famous ‘Glory, Glory’ nights.
When he came onto the pitch at half-time of the first test event, a game which saw the under-18s beat Southampton 3-1, Mauricio Pochettino hailed their new home as “one of the best in the world”.
There can be little doubt about that. The stadium itself is a piece of history, but where do its new inhabitants stand as they embark on such a crucial moment? Is the promise of more glory on the horizon?
This season, amidst all the financial and logistical challenges that being ‘homeless’ has brought, there has been a creeping feeling that Spurs’ progress has hit a wall.
Barring a remarkable upset in the Champions League, it looks likely that silverware has eluded Pochettino’s men for another year. In fact, since the takeover at the start of the century, coinciding roughly with ENIC’s takeover, they have won just one League Cup.
The Palace game comes at a rather awkward time, too. A quick look at the form table is not flattering. There are pressing concerns about contracts, most notably affecting the futures of Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld. Talk of Pochettino’s exit has been hushed, at least, by Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s early success at Manchester United.
On its own, a 62,062-seater stadium may not be enough to dim those concerns. It should be enough, however, to serve as a reminder of the benefits of doing things the right way.
The mentality at Tottenham is so often derided, the board mocked for going two consecutive transfer windows without signing a single player. One that for so long resisted paying even its biggest stars a six-figure weekly wage, until Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris finally shattered that ceiling.
It should not be forgotten where part of that collective conscience came from. In the 1990s, the club experienced financial turmoil and came close to liquidation, before being docked 12 points in the 1994-95 season, though the decision was eventually overturned on appeal.
That background has only reinforced a mindset of caution that is now so central to the way the business side of things is run. When Levy first took over, there were lofty ambitions of signing Rivaldo and Andriy Shevchenko, but Spurs’ aspirations never seemed to quite match up to reality.
Now, where everything else on the High Road looks much the same, from the chicken shops to the fruit markets and barbers at every turn, at the end of it there is a quite unmissable symbol that something has changed.
Remember Keith Burkinshaw’s lament that “there used to be a football club over there?” So much about the new Tottenham is unrecognisable, but if the test events have shown anything, it’s that the spirit of Spurs remains alive in their new home.
Tottenham will play six home games between now and mid-May, and that’s without taking into account a possible European semi-final should they progress past Manchester City.
Though there is little time left before the end of the current season, the next few weeks will still play a part in making the stadium a truly global attraction, just as the announcer used to welcome fans to White Hart Lane, “the world famous home of the Spurs”.
The Lane is gone, and with it its sense of history. It’s time for Tottenham to create new memories.