Two months after an elated Lionel Messi finally led Argentina to glory in Copa America, South America's finest are back in action for a hectic week of World Cup qualifying action.
At least, some of the region's stars have managed to make it back home to continue their quest to make the cut for Qatar.
Just as in March, when two rounds of Conmebol qualifiers were postponed, Europe's top leagues attempted to avoid the loss of their foreign legions in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The sanitary situation in South America is far more encouraging than six months ago, but many nations across the Atlantic Ocean still see travel to the region as a potential threat.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, almost every country remains on the governments' red list'. That means any individual arriving from Argentina, say, or Brazil, Uruguay or Chile must complete a strict period of quarantine once back in the country.
The implementation of such rules cannot help but appear arbitrary, almost discriminating. The seven-day case average for Uruguay as of Monday, for instance, is a mere 85, while more than three-quarters of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and almost 73 percent of both doses.
Chile boasts similarly impressive numbers, while Argentina and Brazil have also done much to bring the pandemic under control after seeing cases and deaths spike going into the Southern Hemisphere winter.
Certainly, the outlook is far more positive than the dreadful context of June and July, when the Copa went ahead and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino was able to travel from Rio de Janeiro to Wembley's Euro 2020 decider and take in both finals in the space of 24 hours.
Nevertheless, all four nations and their Conmebol colleagues face the strictest restrictions in the UK while the United States, with an average of more than 150,000 new positives a day, remains on the relatively lax amber list regime which does not prescribe quarantine.
The Premier League was the first of Europe's big leagues to announce it would not release players from red list nations for the upcoming qualifiers, and was swiftly followed by both Spain and Italy which confirmed similar measures.
The backlash was predictable, with Fifa pleading for a change of heart while authorities in South America hit out against the measures.
"With this decision adopted by different European leagues over not releasing footballers for international matches to represent their respective national teams, there was no reflection nor debate over the horrendous logical consequences this could lead to," the South American Unions' Association, which groups together the continent's national players' unions, fired in a statement.
"This brings as a logical consequence regrettable contempt for the qualifiers to the biggest football event, the World Cup, as national teams cannot field their best players. This goes against common sense and solidarity, we find ourselves with European leagues who are banning players, who enrich their competitions, from representing their nations."
In Spain and Italy at least, the rule-makers were forced to relent. A swift Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling deemed that La Liga had no right to stop players from participating, and the league subsequently opted to reschedule several fixtures to accommodate the clubs most affected by the extended international break.
Back in the Premier League, meanwhile, a laudable act of rebellion has left at least one Conmebol hopeful at almost full strength.
After a fraught week of uncertainty, the sight of Aston Villa duo Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia and Tottenham pair Gio Lo Celso and Cristian Romero winging their way to Venezuela was more than welcome for Argentina.
Martinez in particular appears to have done all in his power to retain the No.1 spot he earned with such aplomb at the Copa America, writing on social media following his side's 1-1 draw with Brentford: "A hard-fought point this afternoon. Now on to Argentina."
With Spain, Italy and Portugal also sanctioning travel, albeit through gritted teeth, and captain Messi and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria's presence never in doubt due to Ligue 1's acceptance of the situation, the Albiceleste are in fact at full-strength for this triple-header.
There is some doubt still over whether Martinez will take the field for the final match of the trip, September 9's home clash with Bolivia.
Villa claimed they have an agreement with their players to come home prior to that date while the Argentine FA believe they have the right to play them should they so desire.
For the crucial visit to Venezuela on Thursday however, followed by a rematch with Brazil three days later, coach Lionel Scaloni will be able to put out close to his best side.
That is more than their biggest rivals can say. Brazil were forced to cut nine Premier League stars from their list at the weekend, leaving Tite with a squad containing no fewer than 10 uncapped players as well as veterans Miranda and Hulk, who must have believed beforehand that their international careers had already run their course.
Uruguay, too, have been left counting the cost of the Premier League's intransigence. Already without the injured Luis Suarez, the Celeste will also miss Edinson Cavani after Manchester United's refusal to release the veteran goalscorer.
Perched precariously just inside the qualifying spots and with tough games against Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador coming, the absence of their two superstars is a body blow for the nation – and wholly undeserved given its enviable health situation.
There is one big winner from this debacle, then. Argentina's Copa stars became heroes back home not just for the quality of their performances in Brazil on their way to the trophy, but for the fierce team spirit and commitment fostered inside the group.
That started, of course, with their inspirational skipper and No.10 Messi, who never stopped leading from the front.
Martinez in particular wrote himself into Albiceleste folklore with his heckling of Yerry Mina and Colombia's doomed shoot-out takers in the semi-finals, and he and the rest of the English contingent have only enhanced their standing by staring down their clubs and league.
Putting it all on the line for the national team shirt is what all fans hope for from their idols, and Martinez and Co. have well and truly come through with flying colours. If Scaloni's men were not favourites already to take down Brazil again in September, moreover, they must start now with the edge over their depleted rivals.
For the Selecao and Uruguay, meanwhile, losing out to the Premier League is an acute blow both to their chances on the pitch and each FA's pride.
Just days ago, Uruguay football chief Ignacio Alonso assured Cavani would be on the plane - "The tickets are already issued. I spoke with Cavani and I believe that the solution will come," - only to have to make a humiliating last-minute climbdown.
Neither nation is really to blame, however. Her Majesty's Government red list no longer seems to reflect the reality of the situation on the ground for many countries.
It focuses on the same middle to lower-income regions of the world who, in turn, have suffered so much in 2021 precisely because of the reluctance of Europe and North America to share stockpiled vaccines and embark on a global solution to a global emergency.
Thankfully, in South America at least and after months of hardship, vaccination is in full flow and the spectre of Covid is beginning to fade, even if the prospect of the Delta strain's entry is still a concern.
That new reality should be reflected in updated restrictions based on current Covid data, which allow not just footballers but anyone travelling for work or essential matters to be able to do so without being unfairly targeted.
A proper, thought-out solution to this problem from Europe's governments and football authorities - that does not punish players - is vital before we have to go through the whole charade again for the next qualifying window a month down the line.