Arsenal learnt that top-seed status is no guarantee of an easy Champions League group draw after being dealt the trickiest hand of the four Premier League participants.
The Gunners, who drifted from 25/1 to 28/1 after the typically interminable UEFA ceremony, will find it more challenging than usual maintaining their run of 13 straight last-16 appearances after being handed Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille.
While the air miles aren’t the most strenuous, Dortmund and Napoli were alongside Arsene Wenger’s men in the top 11 of the outright betting, indicating that it is a cruel quartet for a club supposed to be rewarded for their seeding.
Fellow top seeds Chelsea will struggle to replicate last term’s group stage exit after being joined in Group E by out-of-form Schalke, as well as Steaua Bucharest and Basel sides whom they eliminated en route to winning the Europa League last season.
The likelihood of them finishing first is reinforced by their dash from 11/1 to 8/1 in the winner market.
Man City’s disaster scenario didn’t occur either, despite alarm bells ringing when they were thrust into Group D alongside holders, 5/2 favourites and 2011/12 conquerors Bayern Munich, causing their outright odds to drift from 13/1 to 16/1.
Though it will mean booking more expensive flights, Manuel Pellegrini will be grateful that CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen are the other two teams blocking their path to a first ever knockout round adventure.
In fact, they will probably feel happier with their opponents than 14/1 shots Man Utd, who like Arsenal didn’t experience the supposed benefits of being a top seed.
Their Group A buddies are Ukrainian perma-champions Shakhtar, former foe Sami Hyypia’s dangerous Leverkusen squad and Real Sociedad.
Spain’s fourth-place finishers conquered Lyon in the play-off round and were probably the most gifted pot-four side besides Napoli.
Celtic will be keeping Barcelona company once more in Group H, but will find it even more difficult to progress this time as AC Milan and Ajax, rather than Benfica and Spartak Moscow, complete the line up.
Group B sees Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray and Copenhagen collide, Group C pits PSG against Benfica, Olympiakos and Anderlecht, and Group G combines Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit and Austria Vienna.