An unlikely exit from the Europa League might never have truly been on the cards in Rome this week, but for a 15 minute spell the dark thought certainly crossed the minds of many a Manchester United fan.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side might as well have already booked accommodation in Gdansk before they took to the pitch in the Italian capital, with only two sides in the history of the competition having ever successfully overturned a four-goal deficit like Roma needed to do.
Yet their side was let visibly rattled after the half-time whistle when a rampant Roma attacking display produced two goals in three minutes as well as an abundance of close calls.
Had it not been for the timeless excellence of David de Gea then United might have been ran a little closer in what seemed a dead-rubber encounter, but there was always the underlying belief Solskjaer's side would be able to score again if required given their immense attacking flair.
It's all mitigation given the fact United had less motivation to win the match than Roma, with the Serie A side primarily playing for pride after their second-half collapse in Manchester a week previous, to be too critical wrongly diverts attention away from Solskjaer's fine achievement.
However, not even the perpetual smile of the Norwegian coach was enough to take enough scrutiny from the two half-time changes which certainly helped Roma get a foothold back into the match.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the only player to have started every match for United in Europe this season, while on the opposite flank Luke Shaw is deemed a new undroppable by Solskjaer; it certainly made sense to bring them both off at the break on Thursday night.
Yet their absence was made alarmingly apparent as United immediately lost their shape at the back with reserve options Brandon Williams and Alex Telles ran ragged by a Roma frontline which had a combined age of 100-years.
It is by no means a criticism of Solskjaer for making the two changes at full-back, but perhaps a telling reminder of the issues which could arise in the long run should either of his first-choice options spend a spell on the sidelines.
Williams and Telles are not helped by the fact they were thrown into a European semi-final despite limited playing time this season with the duo quite clearly low on both match fitness and confidence given their reduced squad roles.
Oddly enough Solskjaer often looks to his defence to change a game from the bench; having brought on Williams, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe on the night United crashed out of the Champions League to RB Leipzig back in December.
On that night they didn't offer quite enough to overturn a three-goal deficit, this week they almost managed to throw away a five-goal advantage. It's clear something has to change.
The lack of a mobile defensive midfielder certainly played another part in Roma's spirited fightback, with Fred replicating his lacklustre Leicester showing to gift the Italians their second of the night, before the introduction of the experienced Nemanja Matic at least calmed the chaos to a degree.
In an ideal world Solskjaer won't have to worry about injuries or suspension to Wan-Bissaka and Shaw, but with three games in five days looming it is certain United will once again have to give their reserve full-backs a chance at redemption.
With the likes of Diogo Dalot and Ethan Laird both making a case for their own opportunities while on loan this season, Solskjaer might very well have to accept the need for a defensive reshuffling in the months ahead.
Next week could provide the platform for redemption for both Williams and Telles, alternatively it could confirm the fears which once again became apparent in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.
In order to go one step further next season, United need the same irresistible squad depth which has put noisy neighbours Man City on the brink of an historic Treble; a new full-back option might be required to make that dream a reality.