The last time Barcelona were in a Champions League final against Manchester United heads were scratched as to how a team without equals in Spain could be stopped in Rome.
First came the scouting reports detailing their apparent weakness in the air, urging Manchester United to pepper their 2009 final opponents' penalty area with high balls to expose the flaw. Then came that Lionel Messi header.
A Xavi Hernandez cross had the 5ft 7ins Argentine leaping several feet off the ground to head past an aghast Edwin van der Saar — Barca having done to United what they were expected to do to them; another myth exploded.
Too weak for a battle, too reliant on Messi, generally poor in the air and with a dodgy goalkeeper, Barcelona's frailties have all been listed and then delisted as they keep on winning.
But despite their march towards another league title this season, with a 100-point haul still possible, they have been beaten twice in the league both home and away and on both occasions by struggling opposition.
They also lost their first final of the season, against Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup, where they were outplayed in the first half, failed to score in 120 minutes and conceded in extra-time.
Jose Mourinho; Real Sociedad manager Martin Lasarte; and since-sacked Hercules coach Esteban Vigo have all outmanoeuvred Pep Guardiola at least once.
The first team to beat Barcelona were cash-strapped Hercules last September.
They had just been promoted and were given no chance in Guardiola's side's first home game of the new campaign.
“We tried to force them inside at every opportunity and make the pitch as small as possible,” Esteban said.
“We did our best to put them under pressure but without losing our shape. We played two up front and it was the job of two forwards to make sure their central defenders were not comfortable.
“We played two banks of four and tried to leave very little space between the two lines.”
Reducing the wide open spaces of Wembley and not allowing Gerard Pique and company time to come out playing from the back will be two aims of Barcelona's rivals in the final, but Esteban also points to less subtle game plans.
“You spend large periods of the game without the ball, so staying focused is very important,” he says.
“We only conceded eight fouls in the whole match — that's practically a miracle against Barcelona.”
Mourinho would vouch for that. His last six games against Barca have finished with 11 men on his side only once.
No team in the world is better set up to punish an opponent playing with a man fewer.
“Mission impossible” was how he described it. “They get you on that carousel and they make you dizzy with their passing,” was the image Sir Alex Ferguson conjured before the 2009 final.
Esteban is the first to admit his victory owed something to a Barcelona off-day as much as anything his former side did, and Real Sociedad benefited similarly from playing the Spanish champions just as they were between clasico semi-final legs.
The defeat with the most merit remains Real Madrid's conquest of Barcelona in Valencia on April 20 to claim the Spanish Cup.
A tactic used that night and strangely deployed less effectively in the semi-final first leg was the use of a defensive midfielder as an aggressive search-and-destroy ball winner.
Could Anderson do for Manchester United what Pepe did for Madrid in the Copa del Rey final?
Lassana Diarra did a similar job for Mourinho on Tuesday with Pepe suspended.
A controlled physical approach gives Barcelona's opponents a fighting chance but to lean too heavily on the theory that they can be bullied out of possession is to forget how well they stand up for themselves either by giving as good as they receive or by exaggerating injuries and surrounding match officials.
Streetwise players such as Busquets are capable of doing all three things in the same game.
“There is no point man-marking him. You man-mark him, then you have to man-mark Xavi, and Villa and Iniesta and Pedro,” Esteban says.
“You have to score, because you know they will.
“You can talk about the various ways of trying to stop them from scoring but in all likelihood they will still score.”