Barcelona - so often derided as Messi FC - managed without him as they beat Valencia 5-2 on Saturday.
Albert Celades' reign got off to the worst possible start as Ansu Fati, Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Pique, and Luis Suarez (2) were among the goals.
That scoresheet speaks of a wider trend. Ernesto Valverde is trying to freshen up Barca, bringing through young talent.
On this evidence, it is working. For a 16-year-old, Fati looks exceptional. Arthur and de Jong could put together a midfield partnership over many years.
The trouble is, when Messi is absent, things so often go wrong.
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Yes, Valencia were thrashed by the same scoreline as Real Betis, but that only represents two of the four league games so far this season.
In the others, Barca were stunned 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao and then drew with Osasuna.
It goes without saying then, that while there is a growing acceptance that Messi will depart one day, his teammates are nowhere near ready to cope without him just yet.
And the sense of concern about his future is growing all the time. There is a clause in the 32-year-old's contract that will allow him to leave for nothing at the end of the season.
The Argentine has tried to allay those fears, at the same time mentioning how he wants to be part of a team with a winning culture. He also reiterated his desire to win the Champions League, a competition in which Barcelona have come up short for the last four years.
In the past, the forward has considered a return to South America. Now, it is North America which is suddenly on the agenda thanks to interest from David Beckham.
The England legend has tentatively touted the prospect of signing Messi for his new MLS outfit, Inter Miami. Is there anything to it?
Well, The Sun report that, encouraged by recent developments, Beckham has sent his fixer Paul McDonough to London for a meeting with Messi's dad, Jorge, who often advises him on his career.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder was himself spotted in the capital watching Tottenham's 4-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The same newspaper notes that Miami has plenty of Hispanic football supporters, which would appeal to Messi, and its location would allow him to visit Argentina more easily.
To make it all the more appealing to the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, Inter Miami will reportedly offer to 'share' him in the same way Beckham was allowed to play for AC Milan during the Serie A season while under contract with LA Galaxy.
Beckham's new club aren't even playing in the MLS yet - they're due to join next season - and are having difficulties finding a stadium.
Signing Messi would be the ultimate statement of intent.News Now - Sport News