• 'This could not be more special for me,' says striker
• Chelsea play Europa League winners in Monaco
Chelsea's players arrived in Monte Carlo spying the Super Cup as an early-season opportunity to set the tone for their campaign. Yet for one in their number, a head-to-head with Atlético Madrid represents far more. "This could not be more special for me," said Fernando Torres. A first competitive meeting with the club that nurtured the striker, and to whom his emotional allegiance remains, awaits at Stade Louis II on Friday.
Torres made his name at Atlético. They were the club he joined at the age of 11, the side he captained at 19 and the team whose scoring charts he topped in each of his last five seasons before moving to Liverpool for £26.5m in 2007. Injury denied him four potential meetings with his former club while on Merseyside.
Now, as a £50m Chelsea player restored to an integral role and served by a sumptuous supply line, he is finally showing glimpses of the forward of old. He was at ease as he faced the world at Monaco's Grimaldi Forum on Thursday, brimming with confidence again after all this time.
Life has rarely been this rosy for Torres at Chelsea. Even after the Champions League final in May he had bemoaned a lack of opportunity and sought talks with the club's hierarchy over his future role at the club.
"But I would change nothing if I could go back," he said. "That experience taught me a lot of things: good, bad. I was in situations I'd never been in before. I'd never been on the bench eight games in a row, as I was, and I started to understand everyone in the team.
"When you're playing, you don't think about these things. But when you're out, you understand what people go through on the bench. It was a new experience, like going back to when I was 17 or 18 and having to fight every day for my place.
"I never want to go back to that situation again. But it made me a better player, a better person, and I'm stronger than ever now. It made me a better team-mate," he said.
With appearances so sporadic and Didier Drogba first choice for Roberto Di Matteo, Torres's form dwindled. His first six months at Chelsea had yielded a solitary goal. Last term, while he provided significant assists, he endured five months and 25 games without scoring.
Confidence drained away, insecurities gripping, and he met Di Matteo and the board over the summer to clarify his position in the new set-up. "I had a conversation with them and said what I felt about last season and what I wanted for the future," he said. "Five minutes after that, everything was clarified.
"I'm here because I have an important part to play for this team. I couldn't say a bad word about Chelsea. They made a big effort to buy me and I have a lot of things still to do for this club. We've won the Champions League but hopefully we can win it one more time at least. There's plenty I still want to do. I'm not going to give up. I never did, and I'm not about to.
"The money Chelsea paid for me was never something I was worried about. It didn't make me play badly. It was just a difficult change from Liverpool to Chelsea. The adaptation took more time than it should. But all these things are in the past. Let's think about the present. The future can be brilliant, even better."
He began this term as the golden boot winner from Euro 2012, with a goal in the Community Shield and two in Chelsea's first three league games. He will benefit from the arrival of Eden Hazard and Oscar, and his compatriot Juan Mata's continued excellence, and is now the European champions' clear first-choice forward.
"I'm playing more, which is the big difference, but in this season-and-a-half at Chelsea I've become a better player," he said. "I have played in a different way to that I played at Liverpool. I can play more outside the box, associating more with my team-mates. I gave a lot of assists last season. I can mix it more. This season I'm sure we'll see that."
Atlético may recognise in him the player they lost five years ago, even if Torres has vowed not to celebrate should he score on Friday evening as Chelsea seek to emulate their only previous success in this competition, in 1998.
"Their fans know I am one of them," he added. "And afterwards I'll go back to being the Atlético supporter I've always been. This will be an exceptional day."
Chelsea (4-2-3-1; probable): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres.
Atlético Madrid (4-4-2; probable): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Mario Suárez, Gabi, Koke, Arda Turan; Cristian Rodríguez, Falcao.