Inter squeaked past Catania on Saturday on an own goal and a phantom goal, all with 10 men and a distinctive Jose Mourinho feel to the men in blue and black.
Inter was extremely patient, extremely deliberate during its home opener, taking the three points not only in Mourinho's home debut, but Ricardo Quaresma's first match for Milan.
The former Porto star figured in both goals. With Inter trailing a goal, Quaresma's cross bounded off a defender to level the match at 1-1. Later, a Quaresma throw-in was headed awkwardly off the back post. The Catania keeper caught the ball seemingly on the line; no television replay showed much, and certainly not the entire ball, over the goal line. It was a bit of a gift for a team that has certainly embraced its coach's vision for how the game should be played.
Milan ran the tempo to its pace despite being a man down. Mourinho did a good job moving his players about, taking full advantage of Quaresma's speed and flair on the lines and Ibrahimovic's power and presence in the middle of the field. Maicon Douglas is a horse on offense and I have to see more of Alessandro Mancini. The kid's a star in the making and he came into the game late and created nothing but trouble for Cataina's back line for the final 15 minutes of the match.
Inter's going to be a force, and the clear-cut favorite, to win Serie A again. Is this the team, however, that brings Mourinho back again to the Champions League winner's circle? Already a winner with Porto in 2004, Inter travels to Greece to meet Panithanaikos in its group stage opener Tuesday. Inter is the class of its group, which also includes Werder Bremen and Anothosis. Tuesday's match sets the tone early since the Greeks are probably Inter's biggest challenge in the group.