MILAN -- And suddenly, they looked all grown up; freed from the insecurities, brain farts and inferiority complexes that so often derailed them. Inter Milan's 1-0 win over AC Milan amounts to a 3-0 aggregate win over their crosstown rivals and opens the door to the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10. It also showed how this club -- whose history of bad decisions, unforced errors, psychodrama, chaos and squandered opportunities is etched into its DNA -- could mature into something greater than the sum of its parts and actually play with confidence and control.
That last part matters. Because even when Inter were really good in the past, even when they were winning the Treble under Jose Mourinho and were a far better side -- in terms of both talent and execution -- they rarely showed the sort of self-assurance they've showed in this Champions League campaign.
This is where critics and pedants will point out that the 2010 Treble winners faced a higher caliber of opponent in the knockout rounds -- Chelsea in the round of 16, Barcelona in the semis and then Bayern Munich in the final -- whereas this Inter side dispatched FC Porto (by the skin of their teeth), Benfica and a stumbling Milan, and won't actually play an A-lister until the final. Very true, but this isn't about Inter being good. It's about Inter being the best they can be, treating warts as if they were beauty spots, masking weaknesses with intelligence and not living every imminent setback as if it were a harbinger of doom. In other words, it's about being mature.