On his first day as Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti made a bold sales pitch. "When I went to the Santiago Bernabeu trophy room I said to the president that there was one cup missing and that we should try to get it this season," said the coach who drew level with Bob Paisley on three European Cup wins 10 months after succeeding Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea's decision in 2011 to sack Ancelotti in a corridor at Everton's Goodison Park appeared even more reckless as he became only the fifth manager to lift the game's most hallowed trophy with more than one club, joining Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Jupp Heynckes and Mourinho.
Real have found a leader who reflects in style and temperament their aristocratic tendencies.
Of the men who have raised the cup as a player and coach, Ancelotti is the most decorated, with five medals. Frank Rijkaard has four and Pep Guardiola three.
In an impassioned clash between two tribes from one Spanish city, we saw five goals, extra-time, big mistakes and a goal from Wales' Gareth Bale to add to a stunning solo run from his own half in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona. The world's most expensive footballer scored with his head on 110 minutes to break Atletico's resistance after Diego Godin had put them ahead in the first half.
"The price tag means nothing to me," Bale said.
"I would have come here for a penny if it meant I could play in the big tournaments and win the big titles. It's unbelievable to lift this trophy - it will be a memory which will live with me forever."
Ancelotti was not the only talented manager on show. Diego Simeone's "error" in starting with Diego Costa (who limped off after nine minutes) only accentuated how impressive he has been in inspiring this Atletico side to depose Real and Barcelona in La Liga.
With his wild, shirt-shedding and pec-flexing goal celebration, Cristiano Ronaldo demanded the limelight. Who could blame him, after 17 goals in this year's competition? He joins Lionel Messi on 67 in the competition, only four behind another Real idol, Raul.
Ancelotti's team scored 41 times in total to win the cup. Another record set was for yellow cards in a Champions League final: 12 in all, which expressed Atletico's machismo and the feistiness of the crosstown duel.
As Bale said of Real's flirtation with defeat: "You have days where you just miss a few chances, but the most important thing is that you don't let it hit your confidence. You just keep going, keep trying, keep shooting."
This described his own contribution perfectly.
"All season Gareth has been good and he will be better next year," Ancelotti said. "He is a great player and with experience he will learn because he has a big future ahead of him."
Again, though, the sums are hard to ignore. Real spent 80 million ($158 million) on Ronaldo and 86 million on Bale.
The counterpart to extravagance was Simeone's expert coaching. Mourinho now has a serious rival in the school of micromanaging and drawing love from his players. Simeone also shares Mourinho's appetite for conflict, as shown by his altercation with Real's Raphael Varane. Simeone thinks nothing of invading the pitch to make a point.
With goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois likely to return to Chelsea and Costa joining him to add edge to Mourinho's forward line, Atletico may now struggle to hold their ground as La Liga champions and front-rank Champions League contenders.
Simeone, though, has proved himself as a team builder, tactician and motivator, while Ancelotti has taken the side Mourinho guided to three semifinals and cajoled it over the line for a 10th European conquest.
The five European Cups between 1956 and 1960 with a team containing Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Paco Gento laid the foundations for the Decima obsession.
Now Real are three clear of AC Milan on seven and five ahead of Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
Money got them to 10, but so did clever management.
Ancelotti is Europe's best.