Far from the madding crowd in Argentina, Lionel Messi marked his return from his World Cup-winning exploits to domestic action with Paris Saint-Germain's second goal against bottom-of-the-table Angers.
It was a tonic for the troops on a cold Wednesday night in January on the leafy western fringes of the French capital.
Nearly a month after his brace in the final against France at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, the 72nd minute strike from the Argentina skipper glossed over an otherwise ordinary performance from the Ligue 1 pacesetters against a spirited but limited team.
And it had started so well at the Parc des Princes.
Hugo Ekitike's fifth minute opener arrived with bewildering ease.
Messi was given the ball from a throw-in, the 35-year-old passed to Nordi Mukiele who slid a pass into the penalty area from the right for the 20-year-old Frenchman to scoop past the Angers goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni.
It was a slick finish and furnished the perfect platform for the Ligue 1 leaders. But despite the presence of Messi, who was cheered unreservedly during the warm-up for his feats in Qatar, and the Brazil star Neymar, PSG could not create any clear openings.
A set piece nearly provided the second breakthrough mid way through the half. But Sergio Ramos's header from Messi's free-kick was well saved by Bernardoni.
Despite monopolising possession and intricate passing patterns, PSG appeared lost for ideas as Angers began to sense a chance to gain an unlikely point.
Their equaliser should have come on the hour mark. Himad Abdelli surged down the left and passed to the unmarked Abdallah Sima on the right hand side of the penalty area.
The 21-year-old Senegal international had time to look up and pick his spot in the goal. But he fired high over Gigi Donnarumma's crossbar.
Messi showed him the joys of precision. Set up by Mukiele, Messi nonchalantly passed the ball into Bernardoni's goal to make it 2-0 and take the game away from the strugglers.
❤️💙#PSGSCO 2-0 https://t.co/3a0e1Qis7c pic.twitter.com/qfB6jykNcg— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) January 11, 2023
PSG boss Christophe Galtier hailed the performance of his side.
"We had a lot of absent players during the World Cup," Galtier told PSG TV.
"And little by little everyone is coming back and reconnecting. My players had to be concentrated and serious and I congratulate them because if they hadn't been that way we could have been badly beaten."
Coupled with Lens's surprise 2-2 draw at second-from-bottom Strasbourg, PSG extended their lead to six points.
At the other end of the food chain, Angers seem doomed with eight points after 18 games.
Strasbourg's draw took them to 12 points, three points off the safety of 16th place.