Expectations finally seem like they are being managed correctly in the half of Milan that is slowly accepting they have become the Liverpool of Serie A. At the beginning of this season sections of the Italian media, that amazingly included the Berlusconi-owned parts, were tipping Milan to come third. In retrospect that would appear to be a red herring that most of the club's fan base saw through.
Proof of this new pragmatism from many of the fans (granted some still want to party like it's 1998-99) is in their reaction to recent results. A 4-1 home victory against a Sampdoria side that have made a habit of being embarrassed this season was not treated as the beginning of a Scudetto charge.
Similarly the scoreless draw with Carpi - a club whose wage structure could probably be funded by what drops down the back of the Milan players' sofa at night - was not received with white handkerchiefs and/or suicide watch. This illustrates that the fans are willing to place their diminishing faith in the 'back to basics' approach of the club's latest Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Mihajlovic quickly and correctly worked out that the club simply does not have the players to play like a 'big' team and should adopt a more prudent mentality. That instantly elevates Mihajlovic above the two rookies that preceded him, Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi.
He has also been canny enough to get some of the fans onside by playing young Italians like Davide Calabria, Rodrigo Ely and amazingly 16-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma - who probably thinks in fluent emoji. Milan fans can be pedantic and point out that Roberto Donadoni was available in summer, but in all honesty it could have been 10 time worse...it could have been Gennaro Gattuso.
Miha is certainly not without his questionable judgment calls, though. Despite early signs to the contrary, Riccardo Montolivo has remained as the most insipid and emblematically weak and negligent captain of the Berlusconi era.
Mattia De Sciglio was also once billed as the new Paolo Maldini but is well on his way to being the next Francesco Coco. He seems to have a similar candy-floss constitution to Stephan El Shaaraway, thusly, it is hard to tell if regular injuries are a genuine derailment or just another excuse for not being up to the hype.
On the subject of hype, fewer people are indulging Mario Balotelli the way he would like and that can only be a good thing. Balotelli was looking ready to win matches again before his own injury curse struck but is apparently on the verge of a return to action.
Italy Coach Antonio Conte is playing 'the carrot and stick' routine well with the eternal man-child at international level, but make no mistake, when your other option is as limited as Graziano Pellè: beggars can't be too choosy.
Let's not pretend calcio's most tawdry telenovela is even close to being cancelled, though, Adriano Galliani still resembles the conductor ordering the band to keep playing on the titanic and Silvio Berlusconi looks like a Teflon-faced oil state dictator. Despite Mihajlovic's rightful appraisal of the lack of quality (particularly in midfield and defence) in his squad, €86m was somehow invested in summer - even the quantum physicists at the Large Hadron Collider would struggle to furnish you with a logical answer as to how the signings of Andrea Bertolacci and Alessio Romagnoli equate to well over half of said figure.
Even more harrowingly for Milanisti however, is that the once imperious team Berlusconi built seems to have been weirdly reverse engineered to something closer to the Serie B outfit that he started with.
Back on the pitch, Jeremy 'The Phantom' Menez is still nowhere to be seen. With some projections for last year's stalwart to return to the pitch in February, Mihajlovic has given game time to M'Baye Niang and Alessio Cerci. Niang has age and a measure of goodwill on his side, but Cerci is perennial nearly man. He nearly makes the difference by nearly scoring a curler into the top corner, nearly. Now would be the perfect time for Cerci to move to the MLS and score 30 goals against college kids from Nebraska that earn a similar annual salary to Andrea Pirlo's Manhattan dog walker.
Milan fans need to be patient with Carlos Bacca, he's hit a dry spell but a player with the poacher's instinct and intelligent movement can turn it around quickly when made to feel confident and trusted. Gonzalo Higuain is a case example of this, the Argentine looked a diminished force at the end of last season, fluffing his lines when it mattered with a declining goal ratio and career (and hairline) some thought may be going the way of Giampaolo Pazzini. Higuain is now world football's in form striker, he's even outshone Robert Lewandowski, who looked like Marco Van Basten for a couple of months!
Patience and realism is the order of the day for all Milan fans as one must not get taken in by fairytales like Santa Claus and 'Mr Bee' heading towards Christmas.
Federico Martone - @FedeCalcio