Martin O'Neill's relationship with Jose Mourinho has gone from one extreme (Seville 2003) to another (London 2006) but it was the Aston Villa manager whose reputation was enhanced on Saturday.
Villa drew 1-1 away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a result that stretches their unbeaten run to seven Premiership matches and gives further credence to the view that O'Neill is a master tactician with unique motivational skills.
"Martin is a good guy and good motivator," Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, said of O'Neill. "His team fights a lot. Sometimes, managers like him deserve a bit of luck - and a bit of happiness."
Under the circumstances, given Chelsea's frustration at failing to defeat Villa, Mourinho's compliment was unexpected.
The pair first met in Seville in May 2003, when Mourinho was manager of Porto and O'Neill was manager of Celtic. It was the Uefa Cup final and Mourinho was accusing O'Neill's team of adopting an "over-physical" style of play.
On that occasion, Mourinho drew attention to himself with histrionics on the touchline. Three years on, it was O'Neill's turn. Towards the end of the match, when O'Neill expressed frustration that Villa did not receive a free kick when Juan Pablo Angel appeared to be fouled, Mourinho stepped in to calm his rival. The two embraced and, briefly, diverted attention from a fine match.
"I was contesting a lot of decisions," O'Neill said. "And he [Mourinho] said that I might get a heart attack. He is probably right, of course. It is a change, though, because in 2003 in Seville it was he who was contesting all of the decisions. So perhaps here I got my own back, admittedly in a less severe way."
Mourinho, though more contrite these days, was less keen to discuss the extent of his relationship with O'Neill. "I've forgotten what was said," he said. "We said some nice words."
O'Neill was delighted with a result that keeps Villa in sixth position in the Premiership and makes them, along with Everton, one of only two unbeaten teams in the top flight this season.
Chelsea led through Didier Drogba in the third minute but Villa, who grew in strength and confidence, equalised on the stroke of half-time through Gabriel Agbonlahor. "I thought, after a bad start, we played well," O'Neill said. "I thought we worked hard and defended well. When Chelsea scored, we looked more than apprehensive but we could have caved in and we didn't."
Villa might even have won the match in the final few minutes when Angel found space inside the penalty area but shot against the side-netting. "I thought, for one glorious moment, that it was in," O'Neill said.
Mourinho lamented that "one team wanted to win and one wanted to draw" and he struggled to come to terms with a Villa performance that seemed to emphasise Chelsea's relatively low-key start to the season.
"When we can score only one goal from so many excellent chances, maybe we deserved to be punished," Mourinho said. "Sometimes, you have four chances, score three and win 3-0. Sometimes, you create 15 chances but score only once and draw. That is football."
O'Neill was forced to change his formation from 4-3-2-1 to 4-4-2 when Luke Moore suffered a shoulder injury and was replaced by Milan Baros. Agbonlahor was employed as virtually a right-winger and it was to his credit that his pace made it a difficult afternoon for Ashley Cole, the Chelsea and England left-back, who has not begun the season well.