The Premier and Europa League schedules wait for no one at this time of year.

Albion were thinking about getting back to England and preparing for Chelsea within a few minutes of enjoying special scenes in Athens.

But the fans who followed them to AEK won’t have been making that mental leap quite so quickly as they defied the two-hour time difference and dragged themselves out of bed on another sultry, sunny morning in the Greek capital today.

Those two hours make more difference than you might think.

But this season is a different world in many ways and Athens summed that up.

The Seagulls and their fans had every reason to feel in dreamland as they soaked up the Thursday sun amid Athens’ ancient sights and looked forward to the European night ahead.

Those two hours made the game at the OPAP Arena a 7.45pm kick-off and gave fans full value for their day in Athens.

Many did some sightseeing. There were blue and white stripes climbing the Acropolis.

Others settled in at nearby bars and restaurants.

Amsterdam was about getting out of the rain and into a warm, dry, crowded pub.

Marseille was a case of being herded into a square.

Here, it was a long civilised afternoon, sitting at one of the outdoor tables, enjoying a chat and taking it all in.

With the Akropoli metro station across the road, some fans made their own way to the stadium, which is to the north of the centre.

Trains were packed, roads near the stadium grid-locked and surrounds of the stadium busy a couple of hours before the game.

Those who, presumably, looked English were asked “Brighton?” by police outside Perissos station near the ground.

We were told those who replied "Yes" were taken to a holding area.

As expected, the OPAP was a cacophony of noise.

Steep stands tight to the pitch were packed with black and yellow .

But it felt like Albion fans responded like never before.

Maybe the positioning helped. The away section faced us rather than, for example, Marseille, where we were on the same side.

But the visitors’ chants and songs came through the din loud and clear.

At times the familiar choruses rose above a Greek repertoire which appeared to include their own version of Freed From Desire.

A Greek reporter next to me at the press conference commented on the numbers Albion brought to the OPAP.

Up in the press box, cigarette smoke wafted across our vision from chain-smoking reporters.

You don’t get that in England.

When Matias Almeyda complimented a reporter on his T-shirt in the press conference , we turned around to see why.

It bore a picture of Diego Maradona - unusual working attire.

Kaoru Mitoma stopped for his customary Japanese interviews but on this occasion those asking the questions were his compatriots working out of Barcelona, not London.

The differences you find in travelling from European country to European country are not as great as they used to be.

But they are there - sometimes subtle, sometimes striking.

There have been irritations no doubt.

In terms of on-field opposition, Roberto De Zerbi put Group B down as something more akin to a Champions League challenge than Europa.

But the draw was kind to Albion’s travelling fans, offering three magnificent destinations and experiences quite apart from the matches.

Quite apart from the seven points gained after going 2-0 down in the first match.

The OPAP Arena was an amazing experience.

“Well yes,” said my friendly newsagent in Monastiraki.

“It's a nice new stadium. But you should come to see my team, Panathinaikos.

"Our stadium is a true hell!”

Sounds tempting.