Bayern Munich produced a devastating performance to thrash Barcelona 4-0 at the Allianz Arena and virtually kill off their Champions League semi-final.
Barcelona dominated the ball but found themselves outclassed on every other level as the Bundesliga champions delivered 90 minutes of power, discipline, decisiveness and no little flair.
But nobody will return to Catalonia feeling anything other than chastened after a lesson in converting possession into something more useful.
The tie is not yet over, with the return leg at the Camp Nou next Wednesday. Barcelona won their second leg 4-0 against AC Milan in the last 16 - but Bayern are a far steelier proposition and on this evidence the Bavarians are just as likely to increase their margin of victory as have it trimmed.
Messi's return headlined Barcelona's team news, but Vilanova's side still had their share of absentees - the inexperienced Marc Bartra started in central defence with Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano missing.
Typically, Barcelona hogged the ball, but every time the visitors tried to move it into the final third they ran into a wall of tacklers. Bayern closed down diligently, and often went in two at a time on Messi.
Once they won the ball, Bayern used it quickly and purposefully. Time and again they exploited space behind the adventurous Jordi Alba, giving Robben space to run into.
Jupp Heynckes's side won eight first-half corners, and one fittingly led to the opening goal. Barça failed to clear Ribery's delivery from the left and the ball fell to Robben on the other flank.
The Dutchman, uncharacteristically, crossed right-footed and Dante nodded back across goal for Mueller to poach expertly at the right-hand post, nodding the ball in despite goalkeeper Victor Valdes's efforts.
Valdes had already been called upon to save once from Robben and once from Mueller, both from the Bayern right.
At the other end, there were no alarms for Valdes's opposite number Manuel Neuer. The closest Barcelona came was from a rare swift attack - Pedro crossed from the right and Dante got a vital toenail on the ball to guide it away from Messi and out for a corner.
Barça lacked rhythm, and weren't helped by a sodden centre-circle, inexplicably over-watered on a rain-free day in Bavaria. While the conspiracy theorists had a field day, Bayern do not have to resort to underhand tactics at home, where they have now won 18 of their last 21 Champions League games.
Barcelona's second-half plans swiftly unravelled when Gomez made it two from another corner. Mueller headed across goal from another Robben delivery and Gomez finished from close range, though he was marginally offside.
Barça's best spell followed, though they never managed to trouble Neuer. Bartra summed up their night with a wild shot over the bar when he latched on to a Xavi free-kick.
On 73 minutes the third came, as Robben weaved his way through the area and beat Valdes from the right side of the six-yard box.
Mueller executed a basketball-style screen block on Alba in the build-up but - as we have become used to - the additional assistant referee behind the goal did nothing.
But there was no doubt about the fourth as Robben laid it off to the overlapping David Alaba down the left, and Mueller turned in his low cross for another simple finish.
Alba was lucky to finish the game after lobbing the ball into Robben's face as Barcelona's frustration boiled over - this is not a team accustomed to such a demolition.
The future is theirs.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich): The benefit of blowing hot and cold is that sometimes you blow hot. So it was for the Dutchman, who was involved in three goals and enjoyed almost constant success down the Bayern right.