Finally let loose after a year-long diet of international friendlies, hosts Russia roared their World Cup intent to the rafters on Thursday with a 5-0 tournament-opening win over Saudi Arabia.
The Russians served up an adrenaline-fueled performance for an 80,000-capacity Luzhniki crowd which included President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince.
The Saudis, ranked three places above Russia at 67 in the world rankings, played some nice, tight football at times, but were never able to match the Russian hosts for energy or intent.
Luzhniki exploded into raptures after only 12 minutes when Yury Gazinsky headed home for the opener. Better still, with Russians looking for the early shoots of a footballing Renaissance in a side cramped by a financially rich but poor quality domestic league, the cross that set up the tournament's opening goal came from CSKA Moscow's 22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin.
His potential move to Juventus stirred excitement at home this week after years in which Europe's best clubs have lost almost all interest in Russian talent.
Denis Cheryshev showed great skill of his own to double the hosts' lead just before half-time with a left-footed piledriver, and Artem Dzyuba headed Russia's third in the 71st minute - 89 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
Cheryshev and Golovin hit a further two in injury time, the latter from a free kick, to complete the visitors' misery.
"There are no words to express what I'm feeling right now," said Cheryshev, who was recalled to the Russia squad in March after an absence of more than two years.
"I could never have dreamed of anything like this. I felt very happy when I knew I would be here in the squad but I never dreamed of anything like this."
"I'm happy we've won but we shouldn't stop there," he added.
Russia headed into the curtain-raiser without a victory in more than eight months and ranked a lowly 70th in the world.
For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup.
Only South Africa, in 2010, have failed to advance from the group stage as the host nation and a seven-match winless run had ramped up the pressure on Stanislav Cherchesov's side.
A lack of an attacking threat in recent outings was a primary concern for Russia going into a group campaign in which they will also face Egypt and Uruguay.
Russia meet Egypt in their next match on June 19 in Saint Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia will look to rebound against group favorites Uruguay in Rostov-on-Don a day later.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.