With their floppy locks and childish grins, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero had not a care in the world and that same world at their feet.
Clutching gold medals on the Beijing running track after their Olympic triumph, the close friends appeared destined to spearhead the next great Argentina side.
But seven years, two World Cups and a Copa America later, they have yet to emulate that success.
Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero last tasted international success at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi flies through the air during their semi-final match with Paraguay
Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring in Argentina’s 6-1 rout of Paraguay in the Copa America semi-final
Messi endured defeat to Germany in the final of the World Cup last summer
That could all change on Saturday evening however as the pair reunite in Santiago for the final of the 99th edition of the South American tournament.
Indeed, assuming Ezequiel Garay recovers from a stomach bug, seven of the side that started that Olympic final in 2008 will do so against Chile.
Argentina take on the hosts at the Estadio Nacional fresh from their 6-1 mauling of Paraguay in the last four.
That smoggy evening in Concepcion was dominated by the three amigos: Messi, Angel di Maria and Javier Pastore while Aguero chipped in with his third goal of the competition.
And there were sufficient signs to suggest that manager Tata Martino has stumbled upon the winning formula.
Stumbled, because if X had marked the spot, his predecessors would surely have discovered gold long before now.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino (left) and Sergio Aguero attend a press conference ahead of the final
Manchester United’s Angel di Maria was on target in the semi-final demolition of Paraguay
Ezequiel Garay was also a member of the Argentina squad that triumphed at Beijing 2008
Javier Pastore scores during Argentina’s six-goal hammering of Paraguay in the semi-final
At last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, three victories by a single goal in the group stage were followed by an extra-time win over Switzerland. Belgium were also beaten by one and a penalty shoot-out was required to see off Holland.
Argentina’s better-than-it-looked run was finally halted by Mario Gotze’s Germany in the Rio final before Martino took over from Alejandro Sabella.
Not that their Copa America campaign has been plain sailing, with Paraguay’s second-half comeback in the opening group game a reminder of their shortcomings.
But in their subsequent three matches, they faced teams who had only a plan A: to defend.
Uruguay and Jamaica were beaten 1-0 before a dominant performance against Colombia was only rewarded after an epic penalty shoot-out.
Not until Paraguay opened up in the second-half last Tuesday, did Messi and Co slip into gear and run riot.
Which makes tonight’s clash with Chile nothing short of fascinating.
Aguero (left), Messi (centre) and Javier Mascherano jog during Argentina’s training session in Concepcion
Lucas Biglia (left), Messi (second left), Mascherano (second right) and Aguero run during training
The Argentina players are put through their paces ahead of the final at their training camp in Concepcion
Jose Sampaoli’s side have a plethora of attacking options of their own in Alexis Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia and Eduardo Vargas, backed up by Arturo Vidal.
La Roja will cause Martino’s men more problems in the final third than they have thus far encountered in the tournament.
But until Peru were reduced to 10 men in their semi-final, Chile struggled with the pace down the flanks. And Jefferson Farfan is no Lionel Messi.
To that effect, reports in Chile this week suggested players, including Sanchez, have been using a Playstation 4 to work out how to stop the Barcelona maestro.
Captain Claudio Bravo, however, insists there is more to their opponents than his club team-mate.
‘The truth is that it is not easy, seeing the quality that Leo has and what he has done throughout his career, it’s been amazing,’ he said. ‘I think our focus is the team – that as a team we can control Leo and the other class players.
‘Javier [Pastore] is a very valuable player who gives character to your team, is the heart of the side.
Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez will be integral to Chile’s hopes of lifting the trophy on home soil
Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo stretches to make a save during their pre-final training session
Arturo Vidal fires off a shot during Chile’s semi-final victory over Peru in Santiago
‘[But] the performance of the team does not only go through Javier or Leo.’
One option for Sampaoli is to revert to five at the back as he did so successfully in friendlies against England and Germany and against Spain at the World Cup.
That could mean sacrificing playmaker Valdivia who has been instrumenta over the last month.
And not only is the pressure on Sampaoli as manager of the host nation but as the guardian of the finest generation of footballers Chile has produced.
They have never tasted major success, something that cannot be said even of minnows Bolivia and Peru.
One way or another, one nation’s drought will be quenched come full-time.
‘I always said what happened at the World Cup… kept a thorn in me,’ admitted Aguero. ‘We will always have a bitter taste from the final with Germany, but winning the Copa would give us much happiness.’
And for the Manchester City striker and his international room-mate and friend, it would be not a moment too soon.