Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he faces a major rebuilding job this summer and beyond in order to re-establish Manchester United among the European elite.
He said: "We did well to get here and you could see the difference between the two teams". At the moment, we've really, really done well to get to the quarter-finals and challenge for the top four.
After an excellent start, United were undone twice in four minutes by Messi, who first nicked the ball off the careless Ashley Young and then watched as a weak shot from distance squirmed underneath David de Gea.
They have a battle on their hands to finish in the Premier League's top four but Solskjaer is already envisioning a scenario in the future where United are on an equal footing with their conquerors on Tuesday night.
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Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar after 35 seconds, while Scott McTominay had an opportunity one minutes later, though the Catalans woke up after those scares. However, two of those instances have been in this season's competition, including once by Manchester United. I wouldn't lie if I said we do a super special preparation.
The most notable performance from a Barcelona perspective, however, will have been the way in which Philippe Coutinho linked with his teammates and capped a good performance with a fantastic goal.
"He's different class, he and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best players of the last decade, everyone agrees on that one".
In a previous era United were able to attract the world's best talents but, despite their track record of spending big in recent years, that may no longer be the case.
Barcelona won this match to enter the semi-final of UEFA Champions League 2018-19. With his goals, he has now scored 24 times in 32 matches against English clubs.