The success of Dortmund's season hinges on a busy knockout schedule over the next few weeks. First, however, is a return to the scene of a momentus triumph which will test the resolve of Jürgen Klopp's injury-hit side.
Real Madrid's imposing Santiago Bernabeu stadium with all its grandeur is forever etched into Borussia Dortmund history. Madrid was the scene of one of the club's finest modern-era moments last season, when Dortmund secured their place in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final.
The 2-0 defeat on the night was far from pretty - the final nerve-shattering 20 minutes will be quickly forgotten - but the 4-3 aggregate triumph marked a landmark moment in European competition, buidling on back-to-back Bundesliga titles.
Jürgen Klopp takes his side back to the Bernabeu, albeit a round earlier this time, with the lure of success in the latter stages of the tournament greater than ever. With the championship a mere formality for Bayern Munich, the double-header against Real Madrid allows the Ruhrpott giants to brush off the shackles and play in a pressure-free environment.
"We were delighted to be still in the mix but we're going to have major problems in Madrid, like all other teams have there," Klopp admitted at his pre-match press conference. "We won't have to force the game in Madrid. We're challenged in other respects.
"Real is the overwhelming favorite," he added. "Still, we want to get a result that gives us the opportunity to have a say in the return game. We are used to not being favorites. If we lose it will not be a catastrophe. Few teams can say they have done what we have in these last 10 years."
Battered and bruised
While Dortmund are fresh from a rallying 3-2 win at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, they are still nursing a lengthy injury list that will force Klopp to manage his resources for the rest of the season.
Six starters from last May's showpiece match at Wembley Stadium are unavailable: Sven Bender, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Gündogan, Neven Subotic and the suspended Robert Lewandowski.
This is nothing new for Klopp, however. Dortmund have confronted this situation for most of the season; only the identities of the sidelined personnel have varied. Marco Reus has only recently returned from an absence, netting a hat trick at the weekend to end a challenging period on the pitch with one win in the four previous games.
"It was very important for us to build up this confidence," Reus said. "Now we know that we can also come back again, even if we're two goals behind."
Pursuing 'la decima'
Meanwhile, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was showing his diplomatic side before kick-off, highlighting the "danger" Borussia Dortmund possess and cooling talk of the Spanish heavyweights securing the elusive 10th win in either the Champions League or its predecessor, the European Cup. Real won the title in 1998, 2000 and 2002 but has gone home empty-handed since.
"I have been in situations like this before and I will try to deal with it in a professional way," said the former Chelsea, PSG and AC Milan coach Ancelotti. Real Madrid lost 4-3 at home to Barcelona last weekend and the Italian is without the services of Marcelo, Alvaro Arbeloa and Jese Rodriguez.
But they still contain the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, although, the Balon D'Or winner is nursing a sore left-knee after being jeered by his own fans in the 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano for ignoring team-mate Alvaro Morata.
"The jeers are forgotten," Ancelotti said, "Cristiano is giving the maximum for the club, for the team, for everybody."
Dortmund rivals Schalke know the dangers posed by the Spanish side - having lost 9-2 on aggregate in the round of 16.