Sergio Aguero hacked wide from a chance Manchester City's all-time record goalscorer would normally convert wearing carpet slippers and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones celebrated the let-off by getting booked for labouring over the goal-kick.
It was that kind of error-strewn, forgettable night. Then, a diminutive number 47 emerged from the home bench and the applause began.
The reputation for youth development in these parts historically lies with Manchester United, from the Busby Babes to Fergie's Fledglings, but City's academy has played an important role behind the scenes of rapidly changing circumstances over the past 20 years.
Relaunched under the expert guidance of Jim Cassell at the end of the last century, a youth set-up housed at Platt Lane and then Carrington provided a source of identity and income as City found their feet once again in the top tier. Debuts from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge among others were keenly awaited and generally worthy of the billing.
But Phil Foden is different. While Wright-Phillips, Richards and the rest were shimmering blue bolts amid the general grey, Foden's time is one of plenty of east Manchester. A growing band of admirers expect him to fit straight in.
The 17-year-old from Stockport was an unused substitute against Celtic at this stage of the Champions League last season but became the talk of City's fanbase with some classy pre-season performances in the International Champions Cup.
FT | 1-0 #cityvfey
Top spot secured
17 wins in a row
A successful night in the end for the Blues! pic.twitter.com/eJKnOX4tcJ
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 21, 2017
Pep Guardiola recognised a player attuned to the style he adores – quick-thinking, quick-passing, always on the move.
“You are the lucky guys who saw the first game, for the first team for Manchester City, of this guy," he told a post-match news conference after United won the first and probably only Manchester derby to be staged in Houston.
Last month, Foden sprung to national prominence with a brace in the final as England stunned Spain 5-2 to win the Under-17 World Cup. He was named player of the tournament.
Four wins from four in the Champions League this season, mirroring their mastery of the Premier League up until this point, meant City were already assured of a place in the last-16 by the time Group F whipping boys Feyenoord came to town.
Foden's debut beckoned and, after 75 listless minutes devoid of the jeopardy that made the recent wins over Napoli so thrilling, it arrived. Yaya Toure, a man twice the age of his fresh-faced colleague, lumbered off. Time will tell over whether a torch was passed.
On first sight, Foden is an elegantly natural ballplayer. He was instantly into the action, trotting over to Danilo to receive a throw-in on the restart from his own introduction.
Seconds later he shuffled towards the Feyenoord defence and set fellow substitute Gabriel Jesus scampering into a dangerous area down the left.
The rookie took corners, completed every pass attempted in the opposition half and looked like he belonged in a tidy cameo. This club and its fanbase badly need him to, irrespective of the otherworldly thrills being brought forth on a weekly basis by Guardiola's galaxy of stars.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 21, 2017
At boardroom level, for all the lavish spending, City now turn in profits. Sustainability is expected to be maintained and the new home for the youth academy at the Etihad Campus has come at no little expense.
Ten years ago, a sparsely populated City squad was thickened by homegrown players, whereas now competition is fierce and many of their brightest youngsters over the past decade – England right-back Kieran Trippier springs instantly to mind – have been forced elsewhere and prospered.
The talk around Foden is of a once-in-a-generation talent. If Tuesday's outing is the first of many for a lifelong City fan, it would mean the world to supporters and be a notable landmark for the Sheikh Mansour era.
It would also, evidently, mean the world to Foden. When Raheem Sterling slammed home to secure a late 1-0 win, the substitute was not involved but sprinted eagerly across the field and was the first to wrap the England winger in an embrace. He was living a boyhood dream and revelling in every second.
|James leaving Madrid was the best thing, says father|
|He´s looking good – Zidane thrilled with Ronaldo|
|It needs to take 30 seconds – Matic wants quicker VAR|
|Gattuso: My job is to be the players´ nightmare until season´s end|
|I wasn´t good enough – Guardiola reveals Wigan rejection|
|Brazilian derby between Vitoria and Bahia abandoned after red-card frenzy|
|It was crazy, but I like that - Zidane revels in eight-goal Betis thriller|
|Asensio credits Zidane for Madrid´s thrilling Betis comeback|
|Zidane hopeful over Marcelo hamstring injury|
|Bonaventura claims Milan can catch Inter|
|Bravo for Claudio! Guardiola to pick keeper at Wembley|
|Mourinho hoping for reinforcements at Sevilla|
|Real Madrid become first side to score 6,000 goals in LaLiga|
|Real Betis 3 Real Madrid 5: Asensio at the double in LaLiga classic|
|AC Milan 1 Sampdoria 0: Bonaventura makes it 10 unbeaten for Rossoneri|
|Schurrle excited to finally link up with Reus and Gotze|
|Real Madrid defender Marcelo suffers hamstring injury|
|Costa fumes referees ´want to give me a card´, but Simeone plays down penalty row|
|Stoger makes Dortmund history with Gladbach win|
|Championship Review: Leeds fight back for point, Norwich & Ipswich share derby spoils|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Burki unbeatable as Reus returns to haunt Foals|
|FA Cup ´magic´ no surprise to Pochettino after Rochdale thriller|
|Rochdale hero Davies: This is every kid´s dream|
|Atletico Madrid will not stop in pursuit of Barcelona, promises Gameiro|
|´Wrong image´ to blame for VAR confusion in Manchester United´s FA Cup win|
|Rochdale 2 Tottenham 2: Davies denies Kane in FA Cup classic|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Athletic Bilbao 0: Gameiro and Costa settle cagey clash|
|Napoli set club record with another Serie A win|
|Napoli 1 SPAL 0: Allan sends hosts top of Serie A again|
|Allegri allays Higuain injury fears|
|Allegri convinced Juve can get past Spurs|
|Everton fear ´long-term´ injury for Mangala|
|If it isn´t Madrid, it´s Paris - Hazard tires of speculation|
|Torino 0 Juventus 1: Champions win derby but lose Higuain|
|Neymar exit made Barcelona stronger - Ter Stegen|
|Injured Higuain forced off against Torino|
|Jesus confident of returning strong after knee injury|
|We had to change hotels – Ovrebo recalls fury after 2009 Chelsea-Barcelona semi-final|
|Spalletti: Inter board will decide my future|
|Fabregas still wary of timeless Iniesta|
|Liverpool´s 30-goal hero Salah: There´s more to come|
|Valverde: Coutinho dropped for the good of Barcelona|
|Ronaldo better than Neymar? No says Xavi|
|Real Madrid hurt you with nothing – Xavi says PSG loss an injustice|
|Conte: Chelsea need perfect game to stop Messi and Barcelona|
|Inter in a fragile moment, says Spalletti|
|Booed Emery praises PSG´s mental strength|
|Cavani hails ´good reaction´ as PSG bounce back in style|
|Mourinho wants referees to have final say on VAR|
|Genoa 2 Inter 0: Pandev piles misery on old employers|
|Manchester United to host Brighton in FA Cup quarter-finals|
|Mata ´still up for VAR´ despite disallowed goal at Huddersfield|
|Valverde: Barcelona had to suffer at Eibar|
|Championship Review: Fulham end Villa run, Cardiff pounce|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester United 2: Lukaku sends visitors through after VAR controversy|
|Bayern Munich boss Heynckes hails game-changing Muller|
|Locadia benefiting from ´competitive´ Brighton - Hughton|
|Baby on board? Alba dedicates Barca goal to girlfriend|
|West Brom future ´not a decision for me´, says Pardew|
|Paris Saint-Germain 5 Strasbourg 2: Cavani at the double in bounce-back win|
|Bar-celona! Messi posts unwanted record|
|Barca go 31 LaLiga games unbeaten to tie club record|
|Mourinho: I don´t know and I don´t care when Pogba returns|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 3 Coventry City 1: Locadia, Ulloa lead Seagulls to quarter-finals|
|EIbar 0 Barcelona 2: Suarez and Alba seal points as Orellana sees red|
|West Brom 1 Southampton 2: Rondon stunner in vain as Baggies drop out|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 2: Lewandowski spot-on after Robben´s penalty miss|
|I hope Cutrone finds a beautiful girlfriend so he can rest and make love - Gattuso|
|Allegri denies Champions League ´obsession´ ahead of Turin derby|
|Barry, Evans start for West Brom after training camp incident|
|Sheffield Wednesday 0 Swansea City 0: Carvalhal settles for replay on Hillsborough return|
|Management ´tiring´ but Zidane not ready to leave Madrid just yet|
|Thiago back for Bayern as Heynckes rests stars for Besiktas|
|Simeone urges Atletico fans to get behind Griezmann|
|Robben amazed by Guardiola´s impact at Manchester City|
|Pogba out of Man Utd´s Huddersfield trip with illness|
|A-League Review: Perth ´Panenka´ punished, 10-man Adelaide rescue late draw|
|Robben targets two more years at the ´highest level´|
|Rashford and Herrera ´have a chance´ of making Sevilla trip|
|Emery defends PSG star Neymar after Madrid display|
|Mahrez saga now over, says Leicester boss Puel|
|Alonso to return for Barca clash but Bakayoko set to miss first leg – Conte|
|Mourinho: Manchester United will sign a midfielder|