It was a system that laid the groundwork for the great Brazil sides to establish themselves as masters of the beautiful game.
Guttmann had taken some inspiration from the great Gustav Sebes, the man who coached the "Magnificent Magyars" in the 1950s.
Under Sebes, also of Jewish descent, Hungary became the first nation to defeat England on its home soil, winning 6-3 in 1953 before reaching the World Cup final the following year.
From 1950 until the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the national team won 42 games, drew seven and lost just once --- in the World Cup final against West Germany.
Sebes preferred a 3-2-1-4 formation which allowed Ferenc Puskas, the great Hungarian striker, to thrive alongside the precociously talented Nandor Hidekuti.
That slowly changed to the 4-2-4 formation which would inspire Benfica to European and domestic glory.
"I never minded if the opposition scored, because I always thought we could score another," Guttmann once said.
His thirst for innovation and his psychology degree, which he earned in his younger days, helped him become a leading figure in man-management and a master tactician.
At Benfica, it was the arrival of Eusebio which allowed Guttmann to play Mario Coluna in a deeper position and unleash one of the most attacking teams of the era.
Benfica defeated Barcelona 3-2 in Berne in the 1961 European Cup final before coming from behind to beat then five-time winners Real Madrid 5-3 the following year.
But where there was triumph, disaster was never far away.
"From the moment he arrived in Portugal, Bela Guttman's relationship with Benfica was destined to be complex," says Portuguese football expert Ben Shave.
"After the second European Cup victory, Guttman approached the recently-elected president Antonio Carlos Cabral Fezas Vital with what seemed an eminently reasonable request -- a pay rise.
"Vital chose to turn Guttman down, whereupon the Hungarian departed with what has become a well-worn parting shot: a simple declaration that Benfica would not win another European Cup.
"Guttman's curse has proved painfully prophetic -- the Aguias have lost five European Cup finals since, in 1963, 1965, 1968, 1988, 1990."
Remembered for his uncompromising attitude, his innovation on the field and his nomadic existence, Guttmann's story gained further resonance following the emergence of Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, a European champion with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010 after beginning his career with a brief spell at Benfica.
"Guttman's prickly personality and relentless pursuit of success have led to comparisons with Mourinho in some quarters," Shave told CNN.
"What is certainly true is that both left Benfica in unfortunate fashion, and both departures became matters of considerable regret for the club.