After another case of so near yet so far for Atletico Madrid, the spectacular form of Yannick Carrasco is powering the latest strong bid from Diego Simeones men to finally be crowned kings of Europe.
Victory at home to Champions League debutants FC Rostov on Tuesday will seal Atletico's place in the last 16 for the fourth consecutive year with two games to spare.
Carrasco's goal in May's final of last season's Champions League wasn't enough as cross-city rivals Real Madrid emerged victorious in a penalty shoot-out.
Atletico are now the only team to have lost three finals without ever winning the European Cup -- two of them in the past three seasons under Simeone.
Yet, with the Belgian winger enjoying a breakout second season at the Vicente Calderon, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro forging a prolific partnership up front and the best defence in Europe proving as solid as ever, Atletico could make their final year at the Calderon one to remember.
Carrasco's six goals in his last four games mean he has even ousted Euro 2016's top marksman Griezmann as Atletico's top scorer this season.
"He has improved with a lot of hard work, sacrifice and, above all, understanding the potential he has," said Simeone after Carrasco's double saw off Malaga 4-2 in La Liga on Saturday.
He has also shone in Europe. Carrasco has provided the winner in Atletico's last two Champions League outings as three 1-0 wins over PSV Eindhoven, Bayern Munich and Rostov put them in a commanding position at the top of Group D.
"I feel great. Thanks to the team I am in very good form and I hope to continue like this," said Carrasco.
The 23-year-old has also already improved his tally of goals from an inconsistent first season in Spain when he hit five in 43 appearances in all competitions.
"May he keep improving because he has a lot to offer," added Simeone.
"Hopefully he understands that his biggest virtue is his ambition and hopefully he maintains that."
Atletico quickly realised the talent they have on their hands, extending Carrasco's contract to 2022 earlier this month just over 12 months into the five-year deal he signed when joining from Monaco for 20 million euros ($22 million).
Carrasco may also feel he has a debt to repay in the Champions League.
Despite his strike in the final against Real in Milan, he watched on as right-back Juanfran missed the crucial penalty having not stepped up to take one himself.
It could have been so different for Atletico had Griezmann not hit the bar with a second-half spot-kick.
The character showed by the Frenchman to shrug off that disappointment and net in the shoot-out was a reflection on his improvement not only as a player, but of his mental strength under Simeone.
Griezmann arrived at Atletico just over two years ago as a talented winger and has since been transformed into one of the most potent strikers in the world.
Simeone's same tonic has rubbed off on a more confident and free-scoring Carrasco.