Mikel Arteta strolled into London Colney, Arsenal’s Hertfordshire based training ground - one hand in pocket, greeting former colleagues as if he only left the club yesterday - like a man who belonged there.
Of course, for a former captain who spent six years at the Gunners and was a fans favourite, it might not come as much of a surprise he should feel so at ease on his return.
But given the doubts surrounding his appointment, a first time manager, a horribly tricky job, with other more 'high profile' names potentially available, his very first appearance after being confirmed as Head Coach hinted at a man who has what it takes to defy the critics.
He certainly didn’t look phased, and Arteta gave a convincing first press conference in charge of his former club, stating that anyone who didn’t buy into his vision had no future in North London.
Previously the Spaniard has spoken about not wanting to be too reactive to the opposition - a relief to Arsenal fans who were for so long frustrated by Unai Emery’s reactivity and reluctance to impose his Arsenal side.
Arteta is also quite clearly, again in contrast with Emery, a man with an unshakeable vision of how he wants his teams to play. Emery in his first press conference spoke about wanting to be a protagonist, but his failure to live up to that early talk led very much to him being the villain of the story. Everything about Arteta so far suggests his tale may have a happier ending.
Little experience but his reputation precedes him
There are very few coaches his age as highly regarded. Admittedly the jump from assistant to the main man is a big one, many talented right hand men have failed to bridge that gap, but Arteta has been crafting his identity as a manager since his Arsenal days, when Pep Guardiola would sound out his advice on occasion.
The man who brought him to N5, Arsene Wenger, also rated him highly enough to let Arteta coach some sessions in the Spaniard’s final season as a player. When your two mentors are two of the finest managers English football has seen, you have a better chance than most of succeeding.
It is fair to say that his lack of experience in the hotseat is the only thing counting against the 37-year-old.
He is a fan favourite, charismatic and a natural leader.
His proposed style is precisely what Arsenal fans yearn to see.
Everything about Arteta screams the perfect manager, but whether reality matches up to talk depends on several factors.
A momentous task ahead for Arteta
His first task, of course, is to drag this underachieving squad out of its current malaise. Freddie Ljungberg has done his best, hamstrung by a lack of staff around him, and there have been flickers of life in his five games in charge. The ten minute deconstruction of West Ham was a glimpse at what this Arsenal squad can do. If Arteta can coax that out of this squad more often, it will be the first step to laying the foundations of a successful tenure.
What is often said of this Arsenal squad is the lack of drive and commitment amongst certain players. Arteta was no nonsense and demanding as a captain, a quality he will need to shake up a dressing room drifting along towards mediocrity.
Spanish journalist Guilleme Balague tells a story of how in his first game, with Arsenal drawing 0-0 at half time at home to Swansea and Arteta shocked by the silence in the home dressing room, the Spaniard gave the squad both barrels as Wenger watched on, impressed by his leadership qualities.
Why the Ljungberg comparisons are harsh
The obvious comparisons to Ljungberg’s lack of experience have been made plenty of times in the last week but it seems a little harsh. Ljungberg was not only working with a skeleton crew to support him but has never been an obvious candidate for the top job in the same way that Arteta was viewed throughout his career.
There are similarities; a passion for the club, a vision of football that aligns with Arsenal’s identity, and both are very well respected as coaches. But speak to anyone who knew Ljungberg as a player and they will tell you he never struck them as the type to go into coaching until he actually did so.
Arteta, by contrast, has been earmarked for the main role since David Moyes brought him to Everton. On top of that, Ljungberg was given a firefighting role that he never seriously expected to become a permanent one. Arteta comes into the club with, by all accounts, a thorough and meticulous plan for how the club will progress on the pitch.
Now he finds himself in the top job at a place that embraced him for six years- a club in transition but moving so slowly it’s going backwards. All the talk suggests Arteta has the tools to get Arsenal moving in the right direction again, but time will tell whether he will stall.
For now though, starting with a game against another former club in Everton this weekend, Arsenal just need him to lift the handbrake.