Milan looked destined for a long hard season when they crumbled at home to the champions in only rookie coach Leonardo's second game in charge. That defeat put such a dent in the team's confidence that they managed only three wins and a paltry six goals in their first nine matches in all competitions.
But since then Milan, and Ronaldinho in particular, have rebounded in spectacular fashion leading to one of the most eagerly anticipated Milanese derbies in recent years, seen as a genuine title clash. "If we don't arrive at this derby in good condition we could risk losing by the same result (as in August)," Ronaldinho told Sky Sport. "We must concentrate for 90 minutes so that what happened in the first derby does not happen again. We need to win and go home with the three points."
Ronaldinho has been pivotal in Milan's rise after an inglorious first season in Italy. Having lost his way in his last season at Barcelona, during which he fell out of favour with coach Frank Rijkaard, he came to Milan citing the need for a change of scenery and new stimuli. But despite beginning well in the first half of the season he fell out of favour during the second half of the campaign and hardly played.
Now, though, he is back and five goals in his last two matches are testament to just how much Ronaldinho has improved since his darkest days. "What's the reason for the comeback in my form? I'm not playing alone, we're talking about a great moment for the team, from (goalkeeper) Dida to (targetman Marco) Borriello," said the 30-year-old. "Everyone is playing well and so it's easier for everyone. My job is simple, create goals and score some as well if it's possible. If everyone's pulling their weight, things go well for me."
Ronaldinho's improved form has sparked talk of a recall to Dunga's Brazil team, but the former Barcelona man doesn't want to think about that. "I'm not thinking about that at the moment, my head is 100 per cent on doing well for Milan, helping the team and letting things happen naturally.