Violence between politicized ultras and the police had gotten so bad that the Egyptian FA had suspended all matches, but after pleading that half the league would go bankrupt, the FA relented.
Hundreds of police officers dressed head to foot in black riot gear stood looking at the crowd as the men and boys in red gleefully reminded them and their former paymasters of their position in the new post-revolutionary Egypt.
"F*** the mother of Hosni Mubarak!" they shouted at the police.
"Go **** your (former Interior) Minister, Habib al Adly!"
Ironically their opposition on the pitch that day was Al Shorta, the police club.
This show of dissent would have been ruthlessly cut down a few months previously. But now Mubarak was under arrest in a hospital bed near the Red Sea, and al Adly now languished, along with the president's sons, the former prime minister and other members of the country's elite, in the same jail where he would send the former regime's political prisoners.
"Can you imagine? What must they all must be saying to each other," Assad, now no longer wearing his glasses, shouted over the deafening sound of abuse. "You could write a film about it. The police would abuse us every day. Now it's our time."
In the four years since they began, the Ahlawy had changed from a group aping European football culture to a major thorn in the former regime's side.
"The whole concept of any independent organization didn't exist, not unions, not political parties. Nothing was organized. And then we started to organize football ultras," Assad explained.
"It was just sport then. But to them it was the youth, in big numbers -- very smart people -- who could mobilize themselves quickly. They feared us."
The Ahlawy soon grew into something more violent and anti-authoritarian. Members were arbitrarily beaten and arrested by the police. Fans were harassed by being strip-searched. Assad himself had been arrested and thrown in jail.
Ahly's matches provided a microcosm of the heavy-handedness that the rest of the country felt on a daily basis in Mubarak's Egypt. But unlike the activists and the other opposition groups that had been quickly neutered, the ultras fought back.
"The more they tried to put pressure on us, the more we grew in cult status. The ministry and the media, they would call us a gang, as violent," he said. "It wasn't just supporting a team, you were fighting a system and the country as a whole.
"We were fighting the police, fighting the government, fighting for our rights ... The police did what they wanted. The government did what they want. And the ultras taught us to speak our mind. This was something new, a little bit of a seed that was planted four years later."
The skills that Assad and Al Ahlawy had honed during four years of fighting the police came in handy when the January 25 revolution, and the "Day of Rage" that took place three days later, saw the confrontation between the authorities -- who had decades of experience quashing dissent -- and a wholly unprepared public turn violent.
"I don't want to say we were solely responsible for bringing down Mubarak," Assad laughed. "But our role was to make people dream, letting them know if a cop hits you, you can hit them back, not just run away.
"This was a police state. Our role started earlier than the revolution. During the revolution, there was the Muslim Brotherhood, the activists and the ultras. That's it."
Later, after the match, the Ahlawy would meet at a famous old bar off Tahrir Square called Horriya -- "Freedom" -- a yellowing relic to Egypt's liberal heyday where we drank one-dollar bottles of Stella -- the local beer -- and talked about the future.
Compared to the suffocating security of the past, there were no police or army on the street. A camp of activists still occupied Tahrir Square. People argued about politics on the street. Sometime it would end in fist fights. It was flawed and chaotic. But it was free.
Then came Port Said. As Egypt limped towards presidential elections, the ultras had become increasingly prominent. Al Ahly's distinctive red flag would be seen at marches as thousands of members would turn up, driving the chants and often bringing with them red flares.
Al Ahly had won the restarted Egyptian league and had hoped to maintain that dominance when they traveled to Port Said to play Al Masr.
What happened next shocked the world. More than 70 young men were killed when the stand the Al Ahly supporters were in was attacked by opposition fans. The Ahlawy maintained that the deaths were not simply thuggery, but planned as revenge for their role in the revolution. The authorities deny those claims.
But as the trial of those the authorities claim are responsible drags on, the Ahlawy has used direct action to halt the resumption of the league until justice has been served. The threat of violence has meant that all African Champions League matches in Egypt have been held behind closed doors.
The paralysis has, on the one hand, shown the ultras to be a powerful force, one that the authorities seem unwilling to confront. On the other it has also led to the suspension of the league, which could have long-term effects not just on Al Ahly but the national team too.
Former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley has spoken movingly about respecting the Port Said dead and the need for justice, but he too wants the league to resume. After all, he is charged with taking Egypt to the 2014 World Cup finals -- a dream he believes could have a unifying effect on the country.