As Mauricio Pochettino weighed up the mounting injury list that threatens to undermine his side’s Champions League ambitions, he fixed his glare and a siege mentality began to form.
‘I am not the victim — not in football and in life,’ insisted Pochettino and this grit rapidly became the dominant thread of an hour in front of the cameras.
In the adjacent dugout at Wembley on Wednesday evening will sit the man Pochettino once resented but to whom he is now grateful.
Mauricio Pochettino and his Spurs side take on Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona on Wednesday
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde brought an unceremonious end to Pochettino’s playing career as the manager of Espanyol some 12 years ago and Pochettino returned to this episode to underline his values.
In his book Brave New World, Pochettino reflected: ‘Valverde decided he didn’t want me in the squad for the following season because he felt I controlled the dressing room.
'In reality, it was completely the opposite.
‘Many people know I was completely loyal to my coaches.
'In football, there are people who live off confusion and you sometimes don’t know who the good and bad apples are.’
Pochettino subsequently retired and even thanked Valverde for taking the decision out of his hands.
Pochettino was playing at Espanyol when Valverde became their manager in 2006
And Valverde made the decision to end Pochettino's playing career when he took charge
Speaking on Tuesday, Pochettino said: ‘He arrived at Espanyol at not a good time for me. I could not see it at the time. But I can now.
‘In football you are protected by this bubble. Then when somebody shows you the reality it can surprise you.
‘But after that I prepared myself as a coach and this is where I am today. In football and life, situations change very quickly and I never wanted to be a victim.
‘I wanted to be seen as someone who is brave and faces up to challenges. I am now going to face