Had Daniel Levy given Andre Villas-Boas the striker and midfielder he needed last summer, then Spurs would surely have finished above Arsenal. This was a predictable collapse...
The events of the past week have set up an exciting summer in the Premier League, but first, will Spurs leave it late on the final day? And Benitez deserves lots of credit...
Few gave Celtic a chance of reaching the second round after being drawn in a tough group alongside Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, but Kris Commons' late penalty secured a remarkable achievement as the Scottish champions advanced to the knock-out stage for the first time in five years.
The intervening home matches between Celtic's 2-1 victories over Barcelona and Spartak saw them draw with St Johnstone and Arbroath (in the Scottish Cup) and lose to Inverness but, despite the absence of Rangers leaving Neil Lennon's team with an easy task in the Scottish Premier League, they have still been able to raise their game when it has mattered in Europe.
The win against Barcelona will live long in the memory, while Celtic also pushed the four-times winners all the way at the Camp Nou. And although Benfica would have progressed on the head-to-head rule if Celtic had failed to beat Spartak, the Bhoys finished the job against a side somewhat in turmoil after the sacking of Unai Emery.
Another difficult challenge awaits but Lennon - who claimed people laughed when he said his target was to qualify - has demonstrated his tactical nous to get the best out of his players in the group stage and the results against Barcelona and in Wednesday's must-win game show Celtic can turn it on when required.
In reaching last year's quarter-finals, APOEL showed that a team significantly weaker on paper can continue to cause an upset in the knock-out rounds and Celtic will head into the draw on December 20 in buoyant mood. After all, they've already beaten the best team and can't face them again at this stage.
A 1-0 victory in Ukraine not only ensured that Juventus progress to the second round, but also saw them top Group E ahead of Shakhtar.
The Italian champions have been slow burners in this year's tournament, drawing their first three matches and requiring a late Mirko Vucinic equaliser to grab a point at Nordsjaelland. However, after thrashing the Danes in Turin, Juve brushed Chelsea aside and secured an impressive victory away to Shakhtar, which the Blues failed to do in October.
Perhaps Juventus' biggest strength is their ability to hold onto a lead - a quality they have shown repeatedly over the last 18 months - and it should stand them in good stead in the second round.
With the impressive Arturo Vidal - who Manchester United really should have signed from Bayer Leverkusen - providing the driving force in midfield, Juve will be a threat for anyone in the next stage.
Since the start of November, big-spending PSG have lost three times in Ligue 1 (including a 2-1 home defeat to nine-man Rennes) and were knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue by St Etienne.
The team's performances have raised one or two eyebrows - notably Carlo Ancelotti's, with the manager under increasing pressure to improve a third-place standing in the league - while Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently blasted his teammates, claiming his young sons could play better.
Despite domestic difficulties, PSG have managed to maintain an excellent run in the Champions League, which has seen them win five of their six group stage fixtures and finish top in Group A after a 2-1 victory over Porto at Parc des Princes. Ancelotti will hope the team's progression will prove to be the catalyst for a significant upturn in league form.
Although Jurgen Klopp - who Man City should perhaps consider as a replacement for Roberto Mancini in the wake of their embarrassing failure - rested several first-team players on Tuesday, the usual sharp movement and passing was present in his team in the second half as they eased past a lacklustre City side.
After back-to-back Bundesliga titles Dortmund seem set for a serious assault on the Champions League and topped the Group of Death three points clear of Real Madrid. As one of only four undefeated teams in this year's competition - along with domestic rivals Schalke - Dortmund will pose a hugely difficult challenge for any of the group runners up. Arsenal may have taken four points from them in the group stage last year, but somehow I can't see the Gunners having similar fortune should the two teams meet on this occasion.
The striker grabbed his sixth goal of the tournament to help Galatasaray beat Braga and finish second in Group H. Yilmaz now has 14 goals in his first 18 appearances for Gala; not bad for £5million.
A win in Ernesto Valverde's first game in charge offered hope that they can get back on track after a turbulent season so far.
The striker's last-minute penalty ensured Dinamo Zagreb avoided a 12th consecutive Champions League defeat with a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Kiev.
Did you press the Gomez button?
Two goals in a fixture that might as well have been a training match. Ah, that explains it.
The Messi voodoo doll must have worked as Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year remains intact. There's always next year, though.
A chance to reach the Europa League final at their home stadium.
Giorgio Chiellini and Jerome Boateng
Banned for the first leg of Juve and Bayern's second-round ties after picking up costly cards in the last game of the group stage (Chiellini through accumulative bookings, Boateng owing to a red card against BATE Borisov).
An opponent any of the group winners would be happy to face.
For the same reason as Manchester United two weeks ago. It was hardly fair on Celtic that Barcelona rested so many players against Benfica and the Portuguese side looked close to snatching an unlikely victory in the first half.
Shakhtar Donetsk And Goal Difference
Shakhtar and Juventus both only needed a draw on Wednesday to progress and Chelsea's fears that neither side would really exert themselves were confirmed by Shakhtar failing to have a single shot in the first half.
While the Ukrainian champions were more convincing than the Blues on the whole throughout Group E, Chelsea would have progressed at their expense if goal difference had been the decider instead of the head-to-head rule. It seems wrong that Shakhtar entered their final game with a place in the next round already secured, when Chelsea were still able to finish level on points. And if goal difference had been crucial, Shakhtar would have been forced to give their all against Juventus to avoid the risk of dropping out.
Not only is this a benefit to the competition - we always want to see teams trying their utmost to win - but it would also have aided Shakhtar on their way to the knock-out stage. However, instead of having to qualify with a victory, in their last three matches the Ukrainian champions have registered a simple win against Nordsjaelland and lost to both Chelsea and Juventus - hardly great momentum ahead of the second round.
When was the last time Manchester United put in a convincing 90-minute performance? I'm struggling to think of an example in the current campaign, and there can't have been one in the run-in last season when an eight-point lead over Man City was thrown away in the final six matches.
Although Sir Alex Ferguson chose to rest a number of players on Wednesday and claimed he was "satisfied" with a "decent performance", the 1-0 defeat to Cluj maintained United's recent run of performances that can best be described as 'hardly ideal preparation for the Manchester derby'.
Given how crucial City's two victories turned out to be last year - both in points and goals - Ferguson will be hoping for a better-than-decent display at the Etihad, but ongoing problems such as conceding first have a habit of catching up with teams - as United realised to their cost at Norwich - and who would bet against City holding onto a 1-0 lead on Sunday?
There is a worrying complacency about this United team that stems deep into last season - beyond even the 3-2 defeat to Blackburn at Old Trafford - and Ferguson must take primary responsibility. I've mentioned before that the manager's team selections have been focused more on his concerns with squad rotation rather than addressing the strengths of the opposition - which was evident against Norwich - and Ferguson's praise of his players' performance in the defeat to Cluj does little for the team's long-term benefit.
"The real tournament starts in February," said Ferguson after the match, hinting at his worryingly lax attitude. He would do well to remember United didn't even get this far last season.
Another team who seem happy in defeat. "It wasn't the result we wanted but it was a very encouraging game," said Arsene Wenger after Arsenal threw away the lead to lose 2-1 to Olympiakos.
Here's a thought: instead of accepting second place in the group and resting those "jaded" first team players who have slipped to tenth in the Premier League, how about firing a rocket up their arses and sending them out to win against Olympiakos?
For too long Wenger has accepted second-rate performances and his mollycoddling will do little to give the Gunners the direction and focus they need. When you're tenth in the league and your aim is to finish fourth, winning is everything. So why would a team who are struggling for victories not try to build up the habit of winning in a Champions League match that could have secured first place in the group?
It's really quite pathetic to see Wenger resting players for a tricky run of matches against West Brom (who have lost their last two fixtures and have kept only one clean sheet in 11), Bradford, Reading and Wigan and by accepting another defeat, the manager is continuing to lower expectations.
If you accept losing, it will inevitably lead to more losses and after Wenger claimed his team had "hit the wall" in October, the players have remained slumped against it, with the manager happily excusing their fatigue and failure.
The only way Arsenal will get back up and win over frustrated fans is if the manager shows he has more fight.
Chelsea scored six goals for the first time in a Champions League match to defeat Nordsjaelland 6-1, but still suffered the ignominy of becoming the first holders to be eliminated at the earliest stage.
Chelsea's total of 16 goals also means that they are the highest scoring team ever to be knocked out before the second round and no other side has scored more than the Blues in this year's tournament.
Although Rafa Benitez denied it would take a miracle for his team to progress to the knock-out stages, there was little the manager could do on Wednesday as the goals rained in at Stamford Bridge, but Shakhtar remained unusually subdued against Juventus in Donetsk.
As Petr Cech said after the win over Nordsjaelland, it was the home game against Juventus that cost Chelsea, when the Blues threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.
That fixture proved to be the club's season so far in microcosm, as they started superbly, before fading badly and appearing worryingly frail in defence. Roberto Di Matteo went from tactical mastermind to a coach who couldn't fix his team's lack of resolve and the Blues were left needing a result in Donetsk or Turin, which they subsequently failed to achieve.
Benitez will now lead the club into the Europa League and they have every chance of winning the competition. But after more chants of "F**k off Benitez" on Wednesday, it's impossible to see the manager ever being allowed to settle into his role.
An embarrassment of Garry Cook proportions.
The defeat to Dortmund ensured City replaced Blackburn as the English team with the worst record in a single Champions League tournament, having picked up only three draws from their six matches. Even Rovers managed to win a game in 1995/96, with Mike Newell grabbing the fastest hat-trick in the competition's history in a 4-1 victory over Rosenborg. Unfortunately for Newell, Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis bettered his achievement against Dinamo Zagreb in 2011.
The worrying thing for City is that they have regressed from last season which, as I've said before, is not uncommon for a Roberto Mancini team in Europe. While this year's group was markedly more difficult, City showed little fight or purpose and, pertinently, the manager lacked a convincing plan for success.
It's unlikely that Mancini will be sacked for his failure after only signing a new five-year contract in the summer, but if Jose Mourinho were to become available, City's owners would surely have no qualms about hiring a manager who showed the incumbent how to achieve in Europe at Inter.
In missing out on Europa League qualification, City now have a huge advantage in the Premier League, but their European fiasco may leave a troublesome hangover. Perhaps it's a good thing that they did so badly that they've already had time to come to terms with the failure.
After throwing a hissy fit at Luciano Spalletti when he was substituted against AC Milan, the striker expressed his wish to search for a move in January. But not only are Zenit unlikely to allow their £32million signing to leave so soon into his contract, Hulk is also unable to play for another team this season after appearing for both his current club and Porto.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.