It seemed a matter of common sense, then, that Gerardo Martino, the Barcelona manager, should insist yesterday that he is itching to bring his captain to Celtic Park.
The 35-year-old has been in and out of the side with injuries over the past few years and underwent a summer operation on a cyst on his right knee, but he hopes to be fit to play against Celtic in the second match of Champions League Group H on October 1.
"For me, for the side and for Barcelona as a club, we really want Puyol to be back," said Martino. "The team would have its captain back and that is good for everyone. He is very pleased to have been able to join the group training session with us for the first time and will intensify the work next week. We hope most of that will be with the group and we will see after the Real Sociedad match how he feels during a proper training session."
Martino also made it clear ahead of next week's opening fixtures that he plans to develop a Barcelona side capable of mixing it with any kind of opposition and finding an alternative way to win when their traditional passing game is being shut down.
The Catalan club were beaten 2-1 at Parkhead in the group stages last season and struggled to a 2-1 victory over Neil Lennon's men on their own patch thanks to a last-minute goal from Jordi Alba. It was Bayern Munich, though, who would really expose their weaknesses at the semi-final stage of the tournament, with a resounding 7-0 aggregate win.
Gerard Pique, Puyol's first-choice centre-back partner, earlier this week said the Catalans have become "slaves" to their "tiki-taka" style and while Martino insists he has no intention of altering that basic philosophy, he wants to see them adapt their game to suit the conditions should their opponents try to drag them into a war.
"I have no intention of changing the core of the style," he said, before adding a caveat: "We have to find solutions to what the opponents present on the pitch. Over four or five years, as spectator and admirer of Barcelona's game, though, I have seen them play in all sorts of different ways.
"We have to be ready to pull through every match where the opponent presents something different. Of course, things have to be based on our normal style, but we will present alternatives as we did against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup when using longer balls than shorter ones, which can be more risky."
Martino also said he will be maintaining a carefully-crafted rotation system to make sure his team is firing on all cylinders for every fixture. Barcelona suffered from fatigue that affected the side's campaign - particularly in Europe - last season.
"I revise how many minutes each player plays," he said. "We need all players during nine or 10 months, not just during three or four weeks."