There’s a moment in the political satire The Thick of It when sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker is asked by a shamed minister whether he can stop an embarrassing story getting out when the newspapers have already gone to print.
‘I’m good, but I can’t f***ing hold back the tide, can I?’ replies an exasperated Tucker.
Ronaldo is never better than when fighting against the tide, battling seemingly impossible odds with his unique skill to guide his team through to victory.
Just look at this stage of the last season’s Champions League when his stunning hat-trick against Atletico Madrid turned a two-goal first leg deficit into a 3-2 aggregate success.
But against Lyon, his powers weren’t quite enough. The Italian champions needed three goals and Ronaldo gave them two. Juve’s agonising and surprising wait to win the Champions League again now spans a whole generation.
And their exit – the first time in a decade Ronaldo has not been in a Champions League quarter-final – inevitably begs the question: Will he have to leave Juventus to win the competition for a sixth time?
Ronaldo’s performance on Friday night confirms that age has not wearied him. But at 35, even such a superhuman player must acknowledge that the tide of time is not one he can turn back.