Place yourself in a time where the Europa League -- and Liverpool's last game of the season -- has disappeared into history. Have Sevilla triumphed in yet another final to secure the trophy for the third consecutive time or did Liverpool achieve a great victory in the flames of a season full of change and inconsistency? To be clear, this isn't an attempt to tempt whatever the fates have in store on Wednesday nor to disturb any tranquil souls among us. We cannot deny nor ignore the importance of this game in isolation; in the context of Jürgen Klopp's plans for this club, victory could be transformational.
We know that winning the Europa League provides the winner with direct entrance to the Champions League group stages next season. The prestige and money involved in Europe's premier club competition should be, on the surface, more than enough of a reason to believe that much hinges on besting Wednesday's Spanish opponents, but there is so much more. When Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 with what was largely an unimpressive squad, it felt like Liverpool achieved what shouldn't have been possible when the season began. The dramatic final against AC Milan wasn't the first moment in what was a memorable route to triumph, it was a crowning one.
Just as Olympiakos, Juventus, and Chelsea were mammoth ties during that magical run, defeating Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, and Villarreal were grand and worthy games. Defeating Louis van Gaal's side in the first-ever European meeting between two fabulously fierce rivals was noteworthy enough, but to follow that up by finding a way past Klopp's former club after repeated setbacks at Anfield magnificently upstaged the previous tie. That was one of Liverpool's finest comebacks in the club's illustrious history, and nothing that happens in Basel will change that. Villarreal may not have been impressive over the two legs but still took an advantage from El Madrigal to Anfield with the bonus of keeping a clean sheet at home. Although they finished fourth in La Liga, they were summarily dismissed and dismantled on Merseyside.
Writing about Liverpool's journey, let alone reading about it, only serves to emphasise that Liverpool do have something to lose on 18 May. Both sides do. Mediocre finishes in the league will be viewed far differently with a European trophy to show for the season's efforts, and the situation is akin to the many souls who look back on life's setbacks with regret. "If only we could have won this game or that game," any number of anonymous supporters might say with the wondrous advantage of perspective in pristine perfection. "Everything would be okay, or at least, everything would feel a lot better than it does now."
Well, this is the game where you don't need to look back on with the benefit of hindsight. It can make everything better. Instantly. This isn't to say the club cannot move forward in the absence of European glory, but there can be not a flicker of doubt that Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool's players would immeasurably benefit from the fruits that just one more win would provide. To enter his first pre-season with Liverpool as the man who added to the club's illustrious continental history within only seven months would be an achievement many could not ignore. Interestingly enough, the upcoming final in Switzerland will be the club's second of the campaign. Win or lose, two finals in such a short period of time merits respect and confirms that progress under Klopp is tangible.
The more that was hinted at earlier will only unravel in the summer and beyond. While Klopp might want players who can start engines instead of merely jumping on moving vehicles, Liverpool will instantly become a more attractive prospect. Players who are already intent on joining will Hendo hop their way to signing contracts, while those considering a move will be moved further to join Merseyside's finest. It wouldn't just be for Champions League football, but for players with a discerning eye and sensible representation, joining a club that has started what could very well be an exciting and fruitful cycle will be difficult to ignore.
There's the small matter of actually winning something. Players who will not be part of the squad next season can depart on a winning note, while those entrusted by Klopp to adapt to the specific physical and tactical he requires will have seen the results of the 48-year-old's influence early on. The cycle of trust already exists, clearly, and will continue to grow. It isn't inconceivable, however, to expect a deepening in such trust and understanding on the back of a successful end to the season. This would be particularly pertinent considering the loss against Manchester City in the League Cup final. The players and manager together seized a series of opportunities to seize an opportunity for a second chance of glory.
The UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Super Cup are all tied together in this one game. Avoiding talking about what might be will not alter is coming, which is both unfairly tantalising and frightening at the same time. If Liverpool bring the Europa League back to Merseyside for a fourth time with so much riding on one game, who could deny this team their proper due and respect? Look into his eyes and do not be afraid. Whatever history is to be made, let Jürgen Klopp, his staff, and players seek it on Wednesday with believers behind them.