The first place to start is the historical aspect. When Liverpool’s team sheet was published, the eyes were drawn to the number 67 and the name of Harvey Elliott.
At 18 years and 318 days, Elliott had usurped Trent Alexander-Arnold as Liverpool’s youngest starter in the Champions League. It is a nice little statistic, one that ensured this tussle with Internazionale would always have a significant footnote for the club.
There was to it, though, than facts and figures. Jurgen Klopp’s decision to put Elliott into his midfield for the first leg of a Champions League last 16 tie was the ultimate show of faith from a manager; most boys his age use school nights to prepare for A levels; here he was running out at the San Siro.
Klopp thinks the world of Elliott. His progress had been such last summer that Liverpool’s manager was happy to offload Xherdan Shaqiri to Lyon to make space for the pint-sized shooting star who was emerging and it was clear, at the beginning of August, that his moment was arriving.
When the door opened, Elliott burst through it and his first Premier League starts against Burnley and Chelsea were crammed full of promise, so the calamity which befell him at Leeds on September 12, with an awful ankle fracture, was keenly felt all around.
The lightening-fast actions of Liverpool’s medical team, headed by Dr Jim Moxon and physio Chris Morgan, were crucial in ensuring his rehabilitation would go smoothly – he was treated within seven seconds of being hurt – but, still, to be involved in this game 157 days later was remarkable.
Again, however, this tells you what Klopp thinks of him. The German has a wealth of options at his disposal and could have selected any of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, James Milner or Curtis Jones but, instead, he went with the kid they signed from Fulham.
It was, clearly, a big jump up in terms of quality. Inter are a fine side and their team was packed with wily old stagers who are well-versed at this level – some of the men he was tussling with, such as the excellent Edin Dzeko, were almost double his age.
One thing that struck you, however, was the fact that nothing overawed Elliott. He doesn’t play like an 18-year-old, as everything he does is done with thought: get the ball under control, give it to the nearest red shirt – touch and pass then move, don’t surrender possession.
There were a couple of good moments, the best being the 32nd minute cross that seemed destined to drop into the path of Sadio Mane until Hakan Calhanoglu intervened; there might even have been a goal had Alexander-Arnold opted to play him in rather than take a shot on.
Eventually, as Liverpool found themselves under heavy pressure, Klopp took Elliott from the fray on the 59th minute but there was no slight attached.
This hour will be crucial in helping him become the player Liverpool – and England – believe he can be. This is just the start.