The countdown to the UEFA Champions League final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 21 May gathered further impetus when the trophy was handed over in a ceremony in the Russian capital on Thursday (3 April).
Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, took responsibility for the European Cup which was presented to him by the President of UEFA, Michelle Platini.
The trophy will travel to five Russian football cities before returning to Moscow for the Champions Festival in Red Square ahead of the game.
The UEFA Champions League final will be staged at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and as part of the build up to the event, the European Cup arrived in the Russian capital on Thursday.
In a ceremony at the GUM centre in Moscow's Red Square, the 2007 champions, AC Milan, handed the UEFA Champions League trophy back to UEFA President Michel Platini.
He then presented the trophy to the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, for the city to keep and display to the public until the final on 21 May.
Milan were represented by former player and current technical operations director Leonardo, who helped Brazil win the 1994 World Cup, together with director Umberto Gandini.
Also in attendance were Rinat Dasaev, the former USSR goalkeeper who made his name with Spartak Moscow, and the president of the host association, the Football Union of Russia, Vitaly Mutko.
Since 1997, the previous season's champions have formally returned the UEFA Champions League trophy to UEFA at a special ceremony, with the cup then given to the host city to be showcased until the final.
"A fantastic and a very emotional game will take place at our great five stars stadium Luzhniki. There will be a fight for this wonderful prize."
SUPER CAPTION: Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow
The trophy is due to visit five major Russian football cities: Kazan (19/20 April); Yekaterinburg (21/22 April); Krasnodar (28/29 April); St Petersburg (6/7 May); and Samara (10/11 May).
It will return to Moscow for the Champions Festival in Red Square ahead of the game.
A celebration party will also enhance the excitement on the eve of the final at the Luzhniki Stadium.
"For us it's a big day today because we have an opportunity to launch the final in Moscow. It's a great stadium with great teams. We know about the hard work done by the Russian authorities and we know that small problems remain."
SUPER CAPTION: Michelle Platini, President of UEFA
The short tour of the trophy is expected to bring Russians closer to the competition, set the tone for the final, and to offer local fans the opportunity to get close to the iconic club football prize.
The trophy will be exhibited at venues chosen by the municipal authorities.
Admission will be free for the public, and visitors will have the chance to have their photo taken with the silverware.
SHOTLIST: Moscow, Russia. 3 April 2008.
1. 00:00 Exterior of building where the UEFA Champions League trophy (European Cup) ceremony takes place
2. 00:05 5. Wide of ceremony
3. 00:10 Leonardo (left) and Umberto Gandini from AC Milan taking the European Cup to the stage
4. 00:16 Audience and media
5. 00:21 Wide of ceremony
6. 00:26 SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow
7. 00:53 Cutaway photographers
8. 00:58 Luzhkov receiving the trophy from the President of UEFA, Michelle Platini
9. 01:07 Wide of dancing show
10. 01:13 Girls in national costumes dancing
11. 01:24 Wide of news conference
12. 01:28 Cutaway media
13. 01:33 SOUNDBITE: (French) Michelle Platini, President of UEFA