Patrice Evra says that Manchester United’s reputation as a European powerhouse was damaged by their group stage exit from the Champions League last season.
And the French defender says that if United want to restore their status as one of Europe’s elite, they must see off Real Madrid in the last-16 of this season’s UCL.
Had the two teams played last season, the chances are United would have been sent packing.
But this time around, the Red Devils are a team on the up, while Los Blancos are having a schizophrenic season of limited highs and extreme disappointments.
And so Evra says that United’s upcoming clash with Real gives them the opportunity to give the club a major boost.
"This could lift everyone," Evra said.
"If we can beat Madrid then the response it gives to other teams would be important. Don't forget, last year we were knocked out in the first stage of the Champions League and maybe people have that image of Manchester United in Europe.
"We have to change that. That is why I think this is the perfect year to show who we really are. We can't miss this opportunity to show ourselves, it would be a massive disappointment.
"This is why I'm really looking forward to the match with Real Madrid. I've been waiting for a big European tie like this for a long time and it's probably the biggest European game since Barcelona in 2008.
"The fans have been waiting for this too. Manchester United v Real Madrid is a game for big players, big characters, big personalities."
While Real may not be in the most consistently convincing form, their squad of world beaters is determined to lift the Champions League this season.
And so Evra knows United’s bid to restore their fear factor in Europe will be tough. But it is a test he is confident the Premier League leaders can pass.
"It's a really important time for us,"Evra said. "It's important that we do well in the league in February, but we also have the Champions League game against Real Madrid.
"This is the time when you have to win your games and show that Manchester United is the number one team. It won't be easy, but this is the right moment."
What is your prediction for Real and United's last-16 showdown?