North London in the shadow of a first Champions League final. Emotions clashing.
The run to the prestigious showpiece was thrilling but the contest did not go to plan and was loaded against them by an early refereeing call. Still, this could be the start of something big. If only they could kick on. Feed off the energy and roll with the momentum into their first season inside a stylish, gleaming new home.
If only. It didn’t work out that way for Arsenal as they dropped points against teams turning up at the Emirates Stadium to frustrate Arsene Wenger with their packed defences and limited ambition.
Only once under Mauricio Pochettino have Tottenham accrued fewer points at this stage
And, 13 years on, there are echoes from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road. Tottenham have collected four points from three games. Only once under Mauricio Pochettino have they accrued fewer at this stage.
His team rarely speed from the traps — a trend often blamed upon his extreme pre-season demands — but this year a stuttering start has been accompanied by a long rumble of discontent from the manager’s chair.
Pochettino talked hypothetically of moving on and finding another challenge; about the need for Tottenham to act like a big club. He railed irritably against the difficulties of summer trading while financing a £1billion stadium.
When he claimed last week his squad had never been so ‘unsettled’, eyes turned to Christian Eriksen, the team’s creative force who has been out of form and on the bench since making clear his wish to move on and play in Spain.
Eriksen is into the final year of his contract, as are Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, who has also started the season on the bench, although not in his case because of a contractual dispute. If the Spurs dressing room is unsettled, it is partly due to Pochettino’s efforts to move players out, generate funds and freshen the place up.
Daniel Levy came to the meeting armed with a photo of the pair in more harmonious time
Kieran Trippier was encouraged to leave and did. Eriksen, Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Serge Aurier have all been made available for transfer this summer but are still there.
Then comes a result like Sunday’s home defeat by Newcastle and concerns are amplified to a point where two bookmakers suspended the betting on Pochettino being the next Premier League manager to leave.
This sequence of events led to a determined narrative change as the Spurs boss turned up for his routine pre-match media briefing.
Gone was the general air of dissatisfaction, replaced by tales of dinner with Daniel Levy and an anecdote about how the chairman came to the meeting armed with a photo of the pair in more harmonious times, on the day they demolished White Hart Lane.
They agreed to bury their differences, get on the same page and make every effort to restore the working relationship which helped Tottenham forge past Arsenal.
Pochettino pledged his future to the club and revealed how he had rejected many opportunities to leave.
He billed this as his software upgrade 6.0 in his sixth season, forging a new side with new recruits, although £55million midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is injured, which accentuates a problem at right back with Kyle Walker-Peters out, Juan Foyth very doubtful and Aurier possibly heading for the exit.
New men Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon will not be considered to start because they are behind schedule with pre-season conditioning work. They will need time, Pochettino insisted, and so too will the cohesion in his new team.
Still, his line was drawn. The European transfer window closes on Monday and all managers can savour the relative stability until it reopens in January.
Pochettino will hope all this coincides with an upturn in performances and results. Form faded towards the end of last season, although masked by the glorious run to the Champions League final against Liverpool in Madrid.
He needs his big players to show in the derby. Dele Alli is expected to be back in the squad after a hamstring injury. His goals may have dried up last season but Alli’s athleticism and physical presence are important to the team’s balance. Harry Kane always seems happier with Alli alongside him.
Also, Spurs will not encounter a packed defence at the Emirates. The sides are well matched and duelling for the same prize, which gives the rivalry extra spice.
Back in 2006, when Arsenal came out of the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona and into a new stadium, they hit their stride in their fourth league game, winning at Manchester United.
They settled for fourth place for the second successive season, finishing eight points above Spurs in fifth. These were the early stages of a nine-year trophy drought. Spurs — 11 years and counting since their League Cup win — only dream of a nine-year drought.
Progress under Pochettino has been so impressive that the notion of a future without him is hard to contemplate. His positive words will have soothed concerns but the underlying issues remain.