It was the great tug-of-love transfer story of a couple of summers ago. The latest tale of a club talisman being lured away by a huge transfer fee, the promise of trophies and, of course, immense financial rewards. There were smug smiles in Turin and howls of ingratitude in Naples as Gonzalo Higuain duly made his move north. But, about 18 months on, who has the most cause for contentment now about the €90m deal?
In truth, they've got over his departure pretty quickly at the Stadio San Paolo. The cries of "we never really loved you anyway" which always accompany such transfers have swiftly gone from sounding hollow to having a ring of truth about them. Sitting top of the Serie A table, of course, and playing some sumptuous football have helped to ease any pain they might have felt at his loss.
Football fans, as we all know, are notoriously fickle and last week's hero is easily converted into this week's subject of ridicule or worse. There's no doubt that the Argentinian led the Napoli line to devastating effect over his time at the club and received suitable adulation in the process. However, might his departure actually have strengthened them as a team overall?
The evidence, it would be fair to say, is mixed. If you look at who transferred in that season he packed up his pizza boxes for Piedmont, you'd have your doubts. Arkadiusz Milik, Leonardo Pavoletti, Amadou Diawara and Piotr Zielinski have made mixed contributions to the cause. Only one could be judged an outright failure, while the others are very much works in progress with significant potential. So far, you'd say, you'd rather have Gonzalo.
But while he left a significant-sized hole in their attack, it has been filled in a very different shape and style by the explosion of Dries Mertens. The three seasons in Naples he shared with Higuain were characterised by diminishing appearances in the starting line-up and a goals haul that only just limped into double figures across all competitions. Now that he has been given freedom, responsibility and increased game time, however, he is a player transformed. Indeed, his figures for finding the net compare more than favourably with his former colleague.
If Napoli have moved on though, what has the impact been in the Allianz Juventus Stadium (or whatever it is called these days) of the new striker's arrival? That summer, remember, the deal was fuelled by the funding from Paul Pogba's departure, but the Bianconeri seemed to absorb that pretty quickly. With Paulo Dybala already settled in and contributing handsomely, Higuain notionally filled the gap left by Alvaro Morata. By any standards, it has been a resounding success.
The new hitman has provided goals galore and another Scudetto and Coppa Italia to add to their collection. What he did not, however, deliver was a Champions League which, of course, is something that Juventini crave more than most. His critics would say he provided less in Europe than he did domestically, but the figures of about a goal every other game don't really back that up. In Italy, for sure, he has swept all before him in even more impressive style, but you could hardly say he has been a slouch in continental clashes.
In giving Max Allegri's attack an undoubted focal point, he helped them bulldoze the opposition in Serie A last season and has remained prolific this term - even if his team have not been quite as dominant. It is in those in-the-balance games that they know he can dig them out of a hole and grind out a win or snatch a draw. That kind of display is worth tens of millions of pounds of anybody's money - at least in the modern market.
But the move did not achieve the double whammy these transfers sometimes do. In strengthening themselves, it does not appear that Juventus have also significantly weakened a title rival. Indeed, about a year-and-a-half on, Napoli have absorbed their striker’s departure admirably and are playing, if anything, better than ever.
Time will tell whether a clinical hitman like Higuain might have helped their Scudetto challenge further but, in the meantime, neither club has any real cause for regret. They meet as glorious rivals in one of the most thrilling title races for some time. It has been something of a score-draw off the pitch for these two great teams so far this season, but Friday night might tilt the balance in someone's favour. Few would doubt that Higuain, should he beat injury and play, could well be the deciding factor.