Albelda to Aimar to Baraja back to Aimar. It was a classic show and tell. A football illusion. Sleight of foot, not hand, at Mestalla on September 17, 2002.
Liverpool had been lulled into thinking Valencia were planning an attack either down the middle or the left-hand side of the penalty area. David Albelda had received the ball in a central position from Curro Torres out-wide on the right. He played it into Pablo Aimar’s feet on the edge of the box, who spun Didi Hamann after making what looked like the return pass back inside for a one-two with Albelda.
The con was now on, because Hamann had fallen for it. He had taken the bait, hook, line and sinker, leaving Aimar to follow Albelda’s run only for Ruben Baraja to ghost into their path and play the ball back from whence Hamann had come. The trap had been sprung. Aimar was through, all on his own, and made no mistake, poking a shot beyond goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.
That goal was a decade old this year. It was the opener in a 2-0 win over Liverpool. A month or so later Valencia went to Anfield and recorded a famous 1-0 victory. Those performances in the group stages of the Champions League are believed to have played a significant role in getting Rafa Benitez the Liverpool job in 2004. They may, in part, have also led to his appointment at Chelsea this week.
There were a number of intriguing story-lines to emerge from Benitez's first press conference in the Bobby Tambling suite at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening. Much was made of the short-term basis of his contract, his title as "interim" manager and how he intended to win over a number of supporters who opposed the replacement of Roberto Di Matteo with him because of the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool in the mid-2000s.
Perhaps the most startling revelation to come out of it all, however, was that before the press conference, Benitez had yet to speak to Abramovich. He was due to meet him only later that day "to talk about football." That struck many as quite strange. Wouldn't the owner want to know what Benitez's plans were for Chelsea before he brought him in? Perhaps, he already knew after approaching him following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas in March?
A meeting had instead been held between Benitez and Michael Emenalo. His name came up repeatedly. That of course shouldn't be much of a surprise. Emenalo is Chelsea's technical director and, just as with a director of sport on the continent, responsibilities of identifying and recruiting the personnel to fulfil the club's vision of how it's team should be coached and play are presumably delegated in no small measure to him.
"I was talking to Michael [Emenalo]. He knows me [from] when I was in Spain," Benitez revealed. "It's the most important thing for me now to have someone who you can talk about players, systems or tactics with. Hopefully I will see the owner and talk about things. The info I have from different people is that he likes to see his team playing good football, but he's not involved every day, telling the manager to do this or that. He just wants to see the team playing well. I will take my responsibility and try and do well."
So if, as expected after the choice of Benitez, Chelsea were to play a more functional rather than flamboyant style of football and become more solid than spectacular, wouldn't Abramovich have a problem with it?
"When I spoke to [Emenalo]," Benitez added, "he didn't say you had to do this or that. He just said, listen, we trust you with anything you can do well, and you can do well with these players. I didn't hear anything from him about having to do this or that against your principles about winning games."
Have Chelsea compromised then? Unable to entice Pep Guardiola away from his sabbatical in New York to re-create Barcelona on Fulham Broadway, is Abramovich now prepared to accept the Valencia of Benitez [as a stop-gap] instead, a team that was more clockwork than artwork, yet capable of the breathtaking brilliance referenced above? More than Liverpool, it was this team, the last one to win La Liga outside of Real Madrid and Barcelona, that was name-checked the most throughout Benitez's unveiling.
It was from that time too that he apparently became first acquainted with Emenalo. "He knew me at Valencia and [Liverpool] played against Chelsea so many times," Benitez said. "They know me. At Valencia, winning the Spanish league after 31 years, it wasn't bad. If we play like Valencia, we can win and [Abramovich] will be happy anyway."
But will he? Benitez has proven himself to be a great manager. He has won everything there is to win in the club game, even if one journalist at Thursday's press conference refused to countenance his claim to have won the league simply because it wasn't the Premier League. "I won the league twice in Spain," was Benitez's jocular riposte. "In Spain, Guardiola cannot win the Premier League."
The concern here, though, is not one of Benitez's credentials but his compatibility. Initially his teams are cautious. Then with time they become more attacking. That was true at Valencia where, by his third season in 2003-04, they had evolved into a team capable of taking the game to the opposition and scoring plenty of goals. It was also the case at Liverpool where, in his fourth season in 2008-09, they occasionally played some marvellous football and came closer to winning the league than they ever have done since 1990.
Benitez has won trophies quickly in each of his last three jobs, including at Inter. But he has needed time, certainly more than the seven months of his contract at Chelsea, to produce the kind of football Abramovich is believed to want. Yet it's also true that he has never inherited a squad as talented as this before.
Inter were also Champions League holders when he took charge, but "with 15 [players] over the age of 30," an owner wanting to make cuts instead of spend, they were more or less at the end of a cycle. Chelsea, by contrast, are at the beginning of one and have the resources to satisfy Benitez. Whether he will get their satisfaction remains to be seen.
Rehabilitating his former protégé Fernando Torres to ensure Chelsea do at least get some value for the £50m they spent on a striker who, under his management, became the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 league goals, would be endearing. 74%  of Torres' 76 Premier League goals have come whilst playing for Benitez, under whom he averaged a goal every 107 minutes, compared to every 212 under Di Matteo and 762 with Ancelotti. Any return on Torres will only be acceptable, however, if Chelsea are all-consuming and captivating on the pitch too.
"Winning games is a guarantee for everything," Benitez said on Thursday. That's certainly true for most clubs. But then Chelsea aren't most clubs, are they? And as Roberto Di Matteo found after guiding the club to it's first Champions League and their seventh FA Cup, winning isn't always enough. Not for Abramovich.