There was a time not so long ago when Tottenham Hotspur right-back Serge Aurier was one of the most captivating players in the Premier League.
However, the root cause of Aurier's capacity to engross, excite and stimulate was atypical. Here was a player with all the necessary attributes to thrive in elite level football, but lacking just about every fibre of logical decision-making to translate that ability into a coherent run of positive performances.
High-profile mistakes were commonplace. Spurs were only ever a split second away from tanking an accomplished display by virtue of a kamikaze moment of Aurier-inspired madness.
Aurier pursued his career on the precipice of hitting the self-destruct button, but Jose Mourinho's influence has subtly stimulated a notable turnaround in his form.
It did not happen overnight. Spurs and Aurier have struggled for long spells under Mourinho, and the recent buzz around the title-chasing north London side is just that: a deviation from the norm, a slice of optimism during a managerial era that had consistently underwhelmed before the 2020/21 season kicked off.
But now, on the back of a pair of auspicious results and clean sheets against Manchester City and Chelsea, it's beginning to look like Mourinho's philosophy is translating on the field.
The master defensive organiser has rediscovered his mojo and taken football fans through a time machine back to his heyday in the mid noughties, showing that his once revolutionary ideas may well be relevant once again, swinging back into fashion as the cyclical nature of football suggested it would.
Maybe football has come full circle, or perhaps the Portuguese has simply had enough time to make it work.
While the commitment of the collective to maintaining a robust defensive shape has been one of the outstanding features of Spurs' play in recent weeks, it's worth noting that that commitment fades into insignificance without the discipline and concentration of the individuals operating within it.
Ever since Mauricio Pochettino signed Aurier in August 2017, the right-back has been reliably unreliable, so it was no great surprise that Mourinho brought Matt Doherty to the club from Wolves during the summer window.
The added competition provided by Doherty seems to have raised Aurier's game. The France international played 90 minutes against City and Chelsea and showcased both defensive resilience and a willingness to make an impact in the final-third when an apt opportunity presented itself.
Pitted against the high flying Ferran Torres, Aurier made five tackles, four clearances and wasn't dispossessed or dribbled past a single time during the course of the game against City.
Another complete display followed against Chelsea and he almost found the net with a decent strike from range having taken a rare leave of absence from his station at full-back.
Per Whoscored, Aurier is Spurs' second-highest rated player of the season so far, rising above the pulsating Son Heung-min and the combative Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Only Harry Kane has achieved a higher rating.
Deeply-entrenched fears regarding Aurier's lust for disaster appear to be subsiding with every passing fixture, and his display at Stamford Bridge even induced discussion on Twitter regarding a new contract, which was instigated by a fan page tweet and compounded with an individual highlight reel from the 0-0 draw.
The 27-year-old's current deal is due to expire in June 2022, and if his transformation under Mourinho can be sustained, then it might not be too long before Daniel Levy opens negotiations over an extension to his current £70,000-per-week deal.
That a new deal is even forming part of the discourse surrounding Aurier reveals the extent of Mourinho's impact on a player who only recently was perceived as an expendable liability by large sections of the Lilywhite fanbase.
In the midst of Mourinho's defensive transformation, Aurier stands out as the emblem of this new-look, hardened Spurs.News Now - Sport News