For Ipswich victory in the vast, empty Luzhniki Stadium was proof that their participation in the Uefa Cup means more than just being there. Their 2-1 defeat of Torpedo Moscow was the first step out of the shadow cast by Bobby Robson's side, who in the nine years from 1973 took part in 23 European ties.
However, while Robson's exciting, expertly-drilled teams were unbeaten at Portman Road in European competition, only rarely did they shine away from East Anglia. The exception came in 1981, the year they won the Uefa Cup, when a St-Etienne side containing Platini, Battiston and Rep were beaten 4-1 in France, followed by a semi-final triumph in Cologne, when Ipswich were forced to play three matches in five days.
"This victory has got to give us confidence, Torpedo are a very good side," said George Burley, although the Ipswich manager acknowledged that by the time they play Leeds tomorrow, they could be in a Premiership relegation place.
There was, however, still an element of just-happy-to-be-here in his chairman's voice. "We are all very clear as a club that the Premiership is the be-all and end-all and that Europe is the icing on the cake," said David Sheepshanks. "We are celebrating European football now. It is a new experience that broadens the horizons of the players and gives us an added profile."
On the surface, Helsingborg are a safer bet than Torpedo. Burley has been on scouting trips to Sweden but, had he seen their laboured draw with the unheralded Norwegians of Odd Grenland in which the Swedes limped through on the away-goals rule, he would have been unimpressed.
They may not be quite the side that won the Swedish title in 1999 but they are capable of springing a surprise, as the elimination of Internazionale in last season's Champions' League qualifiers would testify. In the competition proper, however, they beat only Rosenborg, a team that had earlier thrashed them 6-1.
Although Leeds' opponents in the second-round, Troyes, are based in the Champagne region of France, they have had little reason to sample the local produce – until recently their only achievement of note was reaching the French Cup final in 1956.
However, they displayed sparkle and panache enough at St James' Park last month when ripping Newcastle's midfield to shreds in the final round of the Intertoto Cup to run up a 4-1 lead. Although the home side somehow pulled it back to 4-4, Troyes went through on the away-goals rule.
Their first taste of the Uefa Cup resulted in a 6-1 thumping of the Slovakian team, Ruzomberok, a rout led by Patrice Loko, the former enfant terrible of French football now on his umpteenth comeback at the age of 31.
Leeds' 3-0 win over Maritimo at Elland Road was as comfortable as their defeat in Madeira had been embarrassing, although it did not impress the Portuguese coach, Nuno Vingada. "We were the better team in the first half and it was only mistakes that let us down," he said. O'Leary, whose side went into the interval two goals up, might beg to differ.
Chelsea, who enjoyed a 5-0 aggregate result against Levski Sofia, would be worried more about their destination in the second round than their opponents. Hapoel Tel Aviv may have won 13 Israeli championships but many will wonder what state the country will be in to stage football on 18 October.
"It is a tough game with a lot of travelling," said the Chelsea assistant manager, Gwyn Williams. "But Uefa are sensible and I don't think they would send us anywhere where there would be a problem."
Rangers might disagree after the difficulties of shifting their first-round match with Anzhi Makhachkala from Dagestan to Poland. Their unconvincing 1-0 win in Warsaw has earned them a re-run of their 1972 Cup-Winners' Cup final with Moscow Dynamo.Reuse content