The Manchester United captain didn't make the trip to Denmark because of an undisclosed injury, but the Red Devils hardly missed him.
Rafael, an 18-year-old wing back from Brazil, played with a level of maturity well beyond his years in his Champions League debut. The Brazilian was a constant attacking threat down the wing, terrorizing the Aalborg's defence with his penetrating runs, dangerous crosses, and powerful shots on goal.
I've never been a fan of Neville's - it still amazes me that he is the most capped right back in the history of the national team - although I do think it's still too early to peg Rafael as his successor.
But give it time, because Neville, who turns 34 in February, is clearly in the twilight over his over-rated career, while Rafael is an ascending star.
What's more, Neville has only recently returned from injury problems that kept him out of action for 18 months.
Patrice Evra was so impressed with the Brazilian's showing against Aalborg that he told Manchester United's official website that "he is the future of the club."
Sir Alex Ferguson raised a lot of eyebrows when the started Rafael instead of the more experienced Wes Brown against the Danes, but it turned out the Brazilian's performance was indicative of his growing stature within the club.
His latest performance in a United shirt has born similar ramifications. Rafael's opposite number, Patrice Evra, told the team's official website: "He looks to be a very good player and he is ready to play for Manchester United... He is the future of the club."
"Some people might have been a bit surprised I picked him over Wes Brown but I feel the boy has something special," Ferguson said.
To be sure, Rafael is inexperienced, and he needs to learn that he has to track back quickly after making one of his many forays forward - John O'Shea had to drop back and cover for him countless times against Aalborg.
But he's still young and you can be sure he will receive the proper mentoring from Ferguson and assistant Mike Phelan, who played as a right back for Manchester United in the 1980s.
He'll also pick up a lot playing alongside the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
My advice? United should slowly start to phase Neville out and give Rafael more playing time.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?