Borussia Dortmund's current crop couldn't quite capture the spirit of 1997 as their Champions League dreams came to a crash. DW's Alex Chaffer soaked up a night of pure emotion at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.
On an emotionally-charged night for Borussia Dortmund, the acceptance that this turbulent season has almost nothing positive to give was clear to see. "What can you say," one Dortmund fan shrugged as he made his way out of Signal Iduna Park.
"It feels like there's nothing left after that. It was our last chance for this year."
The sense of trepidation and fear was palpable, both in the stands and on the pitch. Dortmund appeared to be nervous and despite not losing their voice you could sense belief from the crowd was waning.
The evening's action was preceded by an absorbing choreography from fans in the southern stand (the 'Yellow Wall' as it is known in Bundesliga circles), that paid tribute to the 1997 Champions League winners who beat Juventus in the final in Munich. The hair-raising quotes from commentary of Lars Ricken's goal on the night and the deafening roar of the crowd created an extraordinary amount of energy inside the stadium.
But the balloon was popped inside three minutes. Carlos Tevez's thunderbolt from 30 yards was probably enough to kill the clash as a contest. Despite not losing their voice, you could almost sense a loss in belief in their team.
The second half drew more blows to the Dortmund voice, as the Italians found theirs.
A harsh lesson
"We always tried to put on a show in the stands, even if we don't on the pitch," Ahkmed, an Italian living in Germany, explained pre-match. The away section, filled with flags and banners was in full flow.
But standing out at the other end of the stadium, the 'Yellow Wall' never stopped cheering on their side, despite the lack of invention from their team. As Dortmund slowly began to get closer and closer to goal without seriously threatening, another sucker punch was landed.
Alvaro Morata made it 2-0 with about 20 minutes to play and Dortmund fans who glanced towards monitors around the stadium could only gasp at the sheer simplicity of the finish. A third goal - a second for Tevez on the night - and that cued the exit doors for a number of home fans.
"We're disappointed because Juventus made it look so easy, and we helped them with that," said a glum-looking Jürgen Klopp after the game. "We paid the price, rightly, for our mistakes and have been knocked out completely."
A sense of forgive and forget was in the air at full-time. Dortmund's fans have accepted now that this season is one they can forget, but for the team it's a wake up call. Having competed well in Europe for the last two years, being dumped out in ruthless fashion shows they're now off the pace with Europe's elite.
Despite the struggles though, the famous 'Yellow wall' never stopped singing. Not one fan from the famous southern-end stand turned away and went home before the final whistle. Like during their struggles this season, they stayed, bouncing until the very end, until there was nothing left to give.