In the gloomiest years between Madrid 1969 and Barcelona 1989, the Rossoneri fans didn’t dare to hope that their team could one day become kings of Europe again. But this is exactly what Berlusconi, Sacchi, Baresi and the three Dutchmen managed to achieve. And they didn't just have the AC Milan faithful believing once more, they made dreams come true. The 1988/89 season marked the passing of the torch from Gre-No-Li, the Swedish trio who won four Scudetto titles in the 1950s, to Rijkaard-van Basten-Gullit, the Rossoneri’s Dutch triumvirate. New signing Frank Rijkaard played a pivotal role dictating AC Milan's play, while Marco van Basten was a player unleashed. Ruud Gullit, meanwhile, was carefully managed due to knee problems.
The whole season was dedicated to winning the European Cup. AC Milan first eliminated Bulgarian side Vitosha (2-0 and 5-2) and then the Yugoslavians Red Star Belgrade in dramatic fashion after being saved by foggy weather and winning on penalties in the third game of the tie. The Diavolo then overcame Werder Bremen (0-0 and 1-0) and Real Madrid, that despite having a legitimate goal ruled out after a wrong offside call against Gullit in the first leg at the Bernabeu. But a 5-0 triumph at San Siro led to almost 100,000 Rossoneri fans descending on Barcelona in the largest group outing in football history. AC Milan's 4-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest was celebrated with the following words from L'Équipe: "From today, football will never be the same again."