When the legendary Italian manager, 62, turned to his Real Madrid backroom staff with arms outstretched and gave an anxious glance down at his watch with City 2-0 up after only 11 minutes on his return to Etihad Stadium, he was probably fearing a similar scoreline.
City were flying. Real were overwhelmed. This was shaping up as a one-sided mauling for the great old Champions League campaigner chasing the trophy for a historic fourth time.
And yet, to the disbelief of pretty much everyone who witnessed a gold standard classic of a football match, Ancelotti was pitchside after the game smiling, eyebrow raised in trademark fashion suggesting he was rather happy to come away with a 4-3 first leg loss.
He did not look as mystified as others at the fact that Real were still in with a shout of reaching yet another Champions League Final.
City’s players were not exactly deflated – how could they be after such a brilliant performance and a semi-final first leg win? However, their body language gave away the brutal fact that they should have had this tie all wrapped up heading into the second leg in the Bernabeu.
This was a breathless night, everything that is good about football at this rarified level and City were, at times, magical.
The Bernabeu does strange things in the Champions League and, while City are unlikely to endure the same physical onslaught Atletico Madrid subjected them to in the quarter-final second leg, they will face a severe test with just a one-goal lead.