Tottenham's time has come
Tottenham have the continent's top guns running scared after their dismantling of Real
If Europe's elite were not already aware of Tottenham Hotspur's renaissance, they will be now.
And with that awareness should come a genuine level of fear on the back of their comprehensive 3-1 victory over Real Madrid yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Humiliating the reigning European champions is nothing new for the Lilywhites, but their marked progress under Mauricio Pochettino makes them a true continental force of reckoning.
Reaching the Champions League's Round of 16 appeared, on paper at least, improbable for Spurs; not least being drawn with a Real side who had not lost at the group stage since 2012.
But a level of disdain which once prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to infamously deliver a three-word team talk at Manchester United - "Lads, it's Tottenham" - no longer applies in north London.
At Wembley, Pochettino's side dismissed this and other preconceptions as mere falsehoods. This is no longer the one-man team which bowed out in the 2010/11 quarter-finals, when Gareth Bale realised that he could not beat Los Blancos and later joined them.
Real misguidedly believed that those old rules still applied and were more preoccupied with the potential damage Harry Kane would inflict on them than the true assassin in Dele Alli.
While Kane remains his side's most potent attacking threat, Alli is Spurs' element of surprise and, often, unpredictability.
The England midfielder ran rings around Zinedine Zidane's star-studded team and carved their defence open as part of his audacious yet effortless party piece.
English football's sixth scorer against Real in the Champions League may soon become one of its best.
Alli has not scaled the heights David Beckham and Steven Gerrard both did at 21, but striking similarities with the pair suggest that he, too, is destined for a similar level of greatness.
I have always been afraid of the Tottenham emergence because it has been coming. Since Mauricio Pochettino got there, it has been steadily rising... This is a great managerArsenal legend Ian Wright
with great, young, ambitious players. They are not fly-bynight players, they look like the real deal. They hammered Real Madrid and they are a team who still have a lot more to give.
Temperament and indiscipline were seemingly immovable barriers for Gerrard during his formative years at Liverpool, likewise for Beckham with United and England.
The Champions League proved to be a turning point in both players' careers and it could prove for Alli also.
He was not alone in Spurs setting down a marker heading into the Champions League's knockout stage.
Pochettino's squad are blessed with star performers across all departments, not just the perennial headline-grabbers that are Kane and Alli.
From a largely impenetrable Hugo Lloris to Harry Winks as the midfield anchor, Tottenham have the most promising squad in European football without an over-saturation of star names.
Kieran Trippier's marauding at right back is another endorsement of a strong home-grown crop.
It was not so long ago that Europe's elite, with Real chief among them, were beating down the door for White Hart Lane's prized assets - and they still might in the months ahead.
The Bernabeu's powers that be will surely keep a watchful eye on Kane as a belated successor to the faded Karim Benzema in their frontline.
Alli is another who will be heavily sought in the Spanish capital, while Christian Eriksen is likely to also be in demand elsewhere.
Real could do far worse than mulling over the move for the Danish playmaker, scorer of the third goal at Wembley, as a viable long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo after the Ballon d'Or holder resorted to cheap flicks and step-overs in between spurning a plethora of half-chances.
Pochettino's challenge of keeping such a talented and finely balanced squad together is made all the more arduous by the fact that the Argentine coach himself will be on many clubs' wish lists this summer, potentially more so in the event of an extended Champions League run.
Paris Saint-Germain will almost certainly have their former player on the managerial radar, but will dread the prospect of coming up against him after the group stage.
They are not alone.
After this spanking of Real, Tottenham's dark horses will have Europe's big guns running scared.