Diego Simeone said he would go to the Santiago Bernabéu with the same enthusiasm as always, but by the time he left that had been replaced by a feeling of pessimism and impotence.
A Karim Benzema goal meant Atlético Madrid lost a domestic derby here for the first time since 2012, leaving them 13 points behind their city rivals. Thirteen points and much more besides. If Zinedine Zidane has revived Real there is an inescapable sense that Simeone’s side are no longer what he made them.
It may have been only one goal, it may not always have been easy, but it was enough. Once the Atlético striker Álvaro Morata had departed injured early in the second half, taking the visitors’ hopes with him, it always seemed as if it would be.