Barcelona want to build for the future with the tantalising prospect of another group of teenage talents emerging together, but for now reality still bites.
After successive 3-0 losses to Bayern Munich and Benfica in Group E, another loss at home to Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday would leave them on the brink of Champions League elimination.
It would bring closer the possibility of failing to reach the knock-out stage for the first time since 2003, when Barca had not qualified for the competition. The last time the club played in the group stage and crashed out was 2001, when they dropped into the UEFA Cup where a team featuring Pep Guardiola and Patrick Kluivert lost to eventual winners Liverpool in the semi-finals.
Many of Europe's most prestigious clubs have recently endured outings in Europe's secondary competition. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Juventus have all featured in the Europa League over the last decade.
But for Barcelona, relegation would be particularly deflating, especially coming after the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain.
Unlike the Premier League, where six teams have for the best part of 10 years traded blows in the race for Champions League places, La Liga's leading duo have hardly ever looked like missing out on the top four.
In financial terms, the gaps have been bigger in La Liga, with first to fifth separated by 600 million euros of revenue in the last figures recorded before the pandemic, while in the Premier League the difference was more like 150 million.
It means Barcelona's place in the Champions League has been more assured, even if they have still shown impressive consistency during the Messi era to advance to the last 16. Ending that run this year would be a blow to their sense of status, stretching the distance even further between them and Europe's elite.
There would be more tangible costs too. Atletico Madrid threw away 15 million euros when they dropped into the Europa League in 2017, a figure that would have been far more dramatic if they had not gone on to win the competition.Messi