Originally Posted by rokudaime_hokage
He was in love before that, since sasuke left the village and nartuto made the promise to sakura. That's why i use the panels there, wasnt that clear enough?. Sakura had a crush on sasuke (or loved him whatever) and naruto promised to bring sasuke back to make her happy, even though he had strong feelings for her, and bringing him back meant destroying any hopes for a relationship between them.
I believe that more than just a crush or a "childish way to score a chick
I see your point, but I'm pretty sure most of that was not just for Sakura, but also partly doing it for his own, as well as Sasuke's sake. And even then, considering that this is the manga where none of the filler happened, it was also probably the beginnings of the transition that occurs after the 1st Shippuden arc.