Barcelona brought the curtain down on their successful Champions League group campaign with a 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
Neymar's training-ground injury saw him cut from the squad, while Luis Suarez was only a substitute, paving the way for Sandro Ramirez and Munir El Haddadi to stake their respective claims.
In what was a second-string Barca side named by Luis Enrique, there were also starts for 'B' graduates Wilfried Kaptoum and Sergi Samper in central midfield.
The Catalans made a scoring start at BayArena when Ivan Rakitic played a contender for the pass of the season to find the run of Messi, who proceeded to round Bernd Leno and finish into an empty net.
However, their lead lasted just three minutes as former Real Madrid loanee Javier Hernandez took advantage of Hakan Calhanoglu's dummy and blasted a finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barca rarely got out of second gear, with two more 'B' starlets in Gerard Gumbau and debutant Juan Camara being thrown on after the interval, leaving Ter Stegen to emerge as his side's best player with a string of saves from the likes of Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi.
Nonetheless, Leverkusen's endeavours weren't good enough to usurp Roma as Group E runners-up and will now prepare for the Europa League knockout stages in the New Year.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Barcelona
Chicharito 23 (BL) Messi 20 (B)
Leverkusen: Leno; Hilbert, Tah, Toprak, Wendell; Kramer (Papadopoulos 90), Kampl; Bellarabi, Calhanoglu (Brandt 79), Mehmedi (Kiessling 70); Chicharito
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Adriano, Bartra, Vermaelen, Alba (Camara 74); Samper, Rakitic, Kaptoum (Gumbau 74); Messi, Sandro, Munir
Referee: Clattenburg [ENG]