Even in Roberto Di Matteo's finest two hours, a living warning stood a matter of metres away. As Chelsea eventually overcame Bayern Munich to end their expensive, enthralling quest to win the Champions League, the Italian may have glimpsed his own future.
Jupp Heynckes, now Bayern manager, was sacked by Real Madrid after winning their first European Cup in 32 years. Di Matteo has avoided that fate but the delay before his belated appointment as Chelsea boss shows there could have been an undeserved sequel.
Success is not supposed to be greeted by such ingratitude, but this is Roman Abramovich's Chelsea. More than three weeks after Didier Drogba's parting contribution secured the Champions League, after Liverpool, Aston Villa, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion had acted rather quicker to recruit new managers of their own, after much of Chelsea's summer transfer business was arranged, a deal with Di Matteo was eventually concluded.
He was not their first choice to stand in when Andre Villas-Boas was sacked in March and, it is apparent, he was not the preferred option to take the reins on a full-time basis. Even though he oversaw the improbable elimination of Barcelona, he lacks Pep Guardiola's allure to Abramovich.
So, whereas many managers' reigns begin with a mandate, Di Matteo's starts with a stark reminder that the owner calls the shots at Stamford Bridge. While the Italian was still, and slightly demeaningly, branded the interim coach, the club committed significant funds to signing attacking talents Marko Marin and Eden Hazard, with Hulk tipped to follow. At most clubs, the manager is put in place and the players follow. Chelsea, however, is a club apart. Abramovich writes his own rules.
It takes a particular kind of character to flourish in such an environment. Di Matteo's nonchalance stands him in good stead. His tendency to downplay events and deflect credit reflects well on him. Besides a tactical nous that was evident against Barcelona and an ability to conjure influential performances from fringe players, he has the personality to prosper. There were few hints of an ego during Chelsea's stunning end to the season. Long after, to impartial eyes, he had earned the job, he was diplomatic enough not to press his claims in public.
But now the demands change. Di Matteo became a specialist at short-termism, rallying a demoralised and seemingly declining group of players, getting results the only way they could. While long-term planning may be an exercise in futility at Stamford Bridge, now he can think of the medium term. Now he has to reinvent Chelsea.
Drogba's departure means his colleagues' default approach over the last eight years is now defunct. They cannot aim at the Ivorian man-mountain any longer. Instead of force, the emphasis must be on flair. Hazard and Hulk have presumably been targeted to flank Juan Mata in a 4-2-3-1 formation, possibly to be spearheaded by Fernando Torres. Di Matteo's task is to make Chelsea sleeker and speedier.
Having excelled in his man-management of the veterans, particularly those antagonised by Villas-Boas, he faces the annual question posed of Chelsea managers: is it time to phase them out? In the case of Petr Cech and Ashley Cole, an answer in the negative can be delivered swiftly.
John Terry and Frank Lampard might prove more problematic. The captain's court case for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand finally begins next month; whatever its outcome, the partnership and performances of David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the Champions League final offered an alternative approach at the back. The vice-captain thrived as a holding player under Di Matteo, providing intelligent leadership, but the fact remains that he turns 34 later this month. He is the oldest of the old guard.
He is also possibly Chelsea's greatest player - Drogba is the other 21st-century candidate - as well a symbol of the modern-day side. It damns them with faint praise to say Jose Mourinho's team prioritised efficiency over excitement. It also appeared to frustrate the man who bankrolled them. When they eventually conquered Europe, it was in thrilling fashion - a penalty shootout and three rearguard actions provided captivating drama - but it was not the exhilaration Abramovich had in mind.
Villas-Boas' botched revolution was one attempt to turn Chelsea into entertainers. Di Matteo has a rather more amenable approach but the same objective. Having triumphed as a pragmatist, he is charged with embracing purism.
Chelsea being Chelsea, perfection has to come quickly. Transition is not a part of Abramovich's vocabulary. Trophies are. Until and unless Guardiola is employed elsewhere, his spectre will loom large over Di Matteo.
Because, as another interim period - between Chelsea's celebrations in the Allianz Arena and the confirmation of the Italian as manager - shows, winning is not enough. Now Di Matteo has to win with style.