All it took, in the end, was one sublime piece of magic to clinch the CAF Champions League crown and make Al Ahly of Egypt the sixth and final side at next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. But its dramatic delivery at the end of Saturday's second leg of the final was the stuff of a Hollywood script.
Al Ahly snatched away a fairytale dream from their Tunisian hosts CS Sfaxien with a last-gasp goal that ensured a 2-1 aggregate triumph for the defending champions.
Mohamed Aboutrika, confirming his status as the best player at this year's competition, hit a full volley from the edge of the area into the bottom right-hand corner of Sfaxien's goal to claim the cup again for the Egyptian giants.
It was most dramatic finish to a tie that seemed to be heading the way of the Tunisian provincial side, literally seconds away from an unlikely first-ever triumph in the continent's biggest club competition
Having snatched a 1-1 draw away in the first leg in Cairo on 29 October, the Tunisians were sitting on a vital away goal and looked to have the title in their grasp as the clock ticked away at the 7 November stadium in Rades.
As the majority of the crowd of 52,000 sat in anticipation of a remarkable triumph for a provincial club, so Aboutrika destroyed the dream with his 92nd minute goal - running perfectly on to smash the ball into the back.
It handed Al Ahly the away-win and a dramatic redemption of their status, just when it seemed the Egyptian juggernaut had finally met its match.
A fortnight ago it had seemed a David v Goliath tussle between the two clubs of contrasting histories, but Sfaxien had exceeded expectations to level the playing field after the first leg in Cairo.
In Saturday's return game, they also had opportunities to wrap up the tie in a match which had little of the invention of the first leg.
While Al Ahly attempted a few long-range shots to limber up, Sfaxien had a gilt-edged chance just before the 30-minute mark. And when the Egyptian defence was caught ball watching as Abdelkrim Nafti swept in across and defender Isaam Merdassi had the goal yawning front of him but managed to head his effort wide of the mark.
Sfaxien controlled midfield matters such that Al Ahly's wily Portuguese coach was forced to take off their Ghana import Akwety Mensah just before the break and bring on striker Emad Moteab in his place.
Mensah, a surprise selection by Jose, had been treading on thin ice with some over-enthusiastic tackles in the midfield tackles, which had already earned him a caution from Benin referee Bonaventure Coffi Codjia.
But after the half-time break there were three quick breaches of the Al Ahly offside trap by Sfaxien and three times when the linesman's flag seemed to be a generous decision in favour of the visitors.
But in the end, Sfaxien can only blame themselves for letting their grasp on the crown slip.
The decision to play out the last 20 minutes in a conservative formation, and with a cynical attempt at time wasting and gamesmanship, allowed the defending champions to find new momentum.
Al Ahly quick set about taking charge as substitutes Islam El Shater and Wial Raid added to their attacking intent. The Egyptian side's Angola import Flavio crashed a shot against the Sfaxien crossbar in the 79th minute, the noise of which resounded around the stadium and instantly silenced the partisan crowd.
Minutes later he went close again while Sfaxien goalkeeper Ahmed Jaouchi was kept busy.
But the crowd picked up their enthusiastic support as the fourth official showed five minutes of stoppage time, secure in the belief their team were going to win the tie on the away goals rule and bring a new-found glory to Tunisian football.
That was until El Shater's cross was flicked on by Flavio and Aboutrika produced a moment of inspiration which will live on for decades.
In the short-term, the stunning goals sees Al Ahly become the sixth and final team to qualify for next month's FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. They will join, Barcelona, Internacional of Brazil, Jeonbuk Motors of Korea Republic, Club America of Mexico and New Zealand's Auckland City FC in the global showpiece event.