Roberto Mancini had not even emerged from the arrivals hall at Valencia airport before he had something to declare and, in the process, Manchester City's manager made it clear that the once seemingly impossible may happen and Carlos Tevez would be given the chance to wear the club's colours again.
Their qualifying process continues in the surroundings of Villarreal's El Madrigal on Wednesday and a game that the Premier League leaders simply dare not lose. After that, Mancini has identified the penultimate tie against Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo on 22 November as the most significant assignment of Group A and, by then, Tevez could conceivably be involved.
The condition Mancini attached was simple as the conversation wandered towards City's previous foreign excursion and the now-infamous night against Bayern Munich when Tevez's refusal to take his manager's instructions and the subsequent rancour and acrimony turned a 2-0 defeat into something far more damaging and momentous.
"Sorry is a little word, an easy word," City's manager said. "Everything depends on Carlos. But I think these are easy words – very, very easy. If he apologises then everything will be like before. If not, then we look at [selling him in] January. This is what I've told him: all of us can make a mistake. The important thing is to apologise and then it's finished. And he can finish it. It is easy. These are crucial words. But these are easy words."
Tevez, in other words, will be ushered back into Mancini's first-team squad, against all expectation, if he can swallow his pride and admit he was in the wrong in the Allianz Arena. He and his adviser, Kia Joorabchian, are going to assess their position but, noticeably, have not dismissed the possibility out of hand.
Mancini explained that this was why he had invited Tevez to his house, as the Guardian revealed last month, once the Argentinian had returned to the club at the end of his two-week suspension. "But this was 20 days ago," the Italian said, with clear impatience. "It wasn't yesterday. I told Carlos 20 days ago to apologise, and he said no. I don't know his agent but I think the people around Carlos are giving him bad advice."
That was a clear reference to Joorabchian, whose dealings with City have been strained for longer than the club would care to remember. The manager also reflected on his own playing days and occasional controversies. "Every time I made a mistake, I apologised. It's a very easy word to say." And Tevez would definitely play for City again if he did likewise? "We'll see. He needs to do it first."
Whether Tevez will take him up on that offer remains to be seen and, if he does, how the supporters would receive him is another issue entirely. For now, the player's camp is mulling over Mancini's remarks, as well as an interview in Corriere della Sera in which the manager reiterates his complaints about Joorabchian. "He [Tevez] is totally unprepared and being badly advised," Mancini says. "I don't want it to be like this and I would be the first to forgive him."
The truth is City have not done too badly without him and, at the very least, have moved on from the days when he was integral to their hopes of winning matches. Yet the defeat in Munich was a gruelling experience and the Tevez affair tended to disguise the fact it was City's least distinguished performance of the season.
Mancini takes the point. "For example, we talked for four days about the way [Franck] Ribéry likes to do this," he said, referring to the way Bayern's French attacker instigated their second goal by cutting inside from the left wing to shoot on his right foot.
City's players will have to eradicate these kind of mistakes if they are to progress, but Mancini is confident they can learn quickly. "It was a lesson for us. I am sure if we make the second stage and meet Bayern again in the quarter or semi-finals the outcome could be different."
He is, after all, entitled to be thrilled by their free-scoring form in the league, with 36 goals from 10 fixtures putting them on course to beat the Premier League record of 103, set by Chelsea in 2010. City can also be encouraged by the fact Villarreal are in the grip of a full-on injury crisis whereas Mancini has brought his full squad minus Owen Hargreaves and, of course, Tevez.
Sergio Agüero's stoppage-time winner against Villarreal two weeks ago led to angry clashes in the tunnel, with the Spanish players accusing him of goading them. "He did nothing," Mancini argued. "I'm sure there will be no problem." This is not an occasion when he, or anyone connected with City, want any more controversy.