Even as that irrepressible flash of pure joy spread across Jurgen Klopp’s face as he briefly held the Super Cup trophy, there was surely a hint of relief too.
The Liverpool manager knew he had taken a gamble in this game – and one that had so nearly backfired on him, as Chelsea provided more stern, and coherent, opposition that he could ever have imagined.
Frank Lampard’s side looked transformed from the team that had wilted so lamely at Old Trafford, their lack of cohesion there, and a their look of bewilderment at what they were even supposed to be doing replaced by conviction.
It meant they provided a real threat throughout the tense extremes of this pulsating final, their intent on the break at times overshadowing the threat of Liverpool’s own revered front three.
Yet in part, that was due to Klopp. He had hinted even before the game he would need to make some tough decisions on selection, because his team would have barely 24 hours to prepare for Saturday’s visit to Southampton.
It was clear in his demeanour – and his team selection here – he was not happy about the distance his side had to travel for this final, especially against an English side, and unhappy too, at the scheduling.
But perhaps the most significant thing to be taken from his decision to rest Roberto Firmino in particular, was that the Premier League is clearly the target this season.
Firmino showed, when he belatedly entered the fray after the interval, just how contentious a decision that actually was, and just how important he is to this team.
Within eight minutes of coming on, he had created a goal for Sadio Mane, an incredible chance for Fabinho, and another, via Mane, for Jordan Henderson…and then almost scored himself, before setting up Mane again for a second in extra time.
It has been suggested the Brazilian doesn’t get the credit he deserves, he is somehow under-rated, though those who watch Liverpool even occasionally would never be guilty of that. Klopp himself certainly isn’t.
Chelsea had thrived in the first half, taking a deserved lead by exploiting time a surprising vulnerability in the opposition midfield and defence to their quick witted, swift breaks – and you sensed it was in part because Mane and Salah were isolated.
Firmino changed that dynamic, and in the end was one of the key performers in Liverpool’s victory with two assists and a cool opening penalty in the shoot out which decided the contest.
Klopp also left out Gini Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench, three key players who will play on Saturday. The Premier League isn’t just a priority, but a holy grail, perhaps that was always the case after 30 years without the trophy.
Yet the question is, are they equipped to rest players and still perform to their best level on more than one front? Manchester City have that luxury of course, a head-shakingly expensive shadow XI Jose Mourinho says is good enough to finish top four.
On this evidence, Liverpool may not. Without Firmino to work off, Salah and Mane look more restricted. The team itself looks less creative. Yet they can surely not go through another season where their front three each plays 50 games or more.
It is a balancing act Klopp must perform so precisely if he is finally to deliver the ultimate trophy, that has eluded Liverpool for 30 years.
Here in Istanbul, he pulled it off – just – to lift a second trophy and give his team more belief in their quest for that grail. It could be a significant moment for them. Winning trophies really is a habit. But the nagging doubt remains, about their ability to juggle priorities.