If there was ever a time for England to end their awful World Cup record against Germany, it was in their last 16 clash in Bloemfontein. Instead, they were embarrassed and humbled by a 4-1 defeat.
There was a moment when it became clear that the match, such as it was, was over as a contest. However, it was not Thomas Mueller's second goal, Germany's fourth, which sealed England's worst ever defeat at a major tournament.
It was the moments after the Bayern Munich striker's first goal, and his side's third, just three minutes earlier.
Right after Mueller was congratulated by his team-mates for lashing in Bastian Schweinsteiger's pass on the counter-attack, the team calmly jogged over to the touchline to rehydrate. Job done. Game over.
This young group of players, six of whom contributed to the victorious European U21 win last summer, were meant to patch up the squad for this tournament. Joachim Loew was supposed to be building a new Germany for the future, ready to be fully unleashed in Poland and Ukraine in two years.
Injuries to Michael Ballack, Rene Adler, Simon Rolfes and Heiko Westermann before the tournament, as well as the tragedy of Robert Enke taking his own life, should have been enough to destabilise the customary strength with which they enter a tournament.
England, by contrast, had all but one of their top players fit and available for selection, even if the fact that said top players were the same as four years ago should have set alarm bells ringing.
This was most likely the England old guard's last chance to beat Germany in a tournament, to put an end to the cycle of success that the Mannschaft somehow manages to perpetuate more than almost any other side.
Instead, a whole new generation of German dominance over England has begun. And they fully deserve it.
Still, there's nothing like wisdom after the event, is there?
Looking back, it is impossible to recall where the pre-match optimism that Fabio Capello's team could break their woeful run in that World Cup fixture could have come from.
When the highlight of your campaign at a major finals is beating Slovenia by the odd goal, you know the highlights DVD won't be flying off the shelves.
For a while England did make it an enthralling contest, perhaps the best of the tournament up to now, but their mid-match efforts were book-ended by defensive and tactical ineptitude.
By the end, as Germany ran the clock down by casually passing their way around the 10 all-red training cones on the Free State Stadium pitch, Early Boers was hoping they would score a fifth just to neaten the narrative line that the English are so guilty of stretching out over the past 44 years.
There was at least one emphatic piece of closure, with Frank Lampard's shot off the underside of the bar not being given by the officials despite clearly crossing the line, but that incident has now been proved to be little more than a footnote, despite Capello's post-match protestations.
Most England fans were staying in their seats, but more because they were frozen by shock rather than stubbornly holding out hope of a miraculous fightback.
It was reminiscent of the way in which Sven-Goran Eriksson's England teased their opponents in Munich in 2001. However on that occasion, Germany had the last laugh by exceeding all expectation by reaching the final the next year.
This time, England will be reaching O R Tambo airport earlier than planned, though perhaps not earlier than expected.
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The inquest and recriminations are already in full swing.
Capello out - Hodgson in. Scrap the old guard. Investment in youth. All standard elements of a post mortem upon exiting a tournament.
But perhaps the biggest bugbear to resurface once more will be that of goal-line technology.
Sepp Blatter was in attendance, and before the match he tweeted (for surely he does it himself, right?): "Leaving for Bloemfontein for the next chapter in a match which has created World Cup history - 66, 70, 90 and 2010."
If the FIFA President didn't know how to utilise the block function on his Twitter account before the match, you can bet he's made good use of it by now.
Bloemfontein now takes its place in history as another venue to play host to a World Cup classic between these two sides, though it will be remembered remorsefully rather than with notoriety brought on by the goal that never was.
The Sun will surely have frantically tracked down linesman Mauricio Espinosa's address in Uruguay after he failed to give Lampard's goal, but by the end the search would have been called off, and the return flight for a lone hack to Montevideo will have been cancelled.
Yes, England were rampant for those glorious 90 seconds, and going in at the break level at 2-2 would have perhaps meant not committing so many men forward in the second half and becoming so vulnerable to swift and clinical counter-attacks.
But it's hard to imagine any scenario, other than a flurry of red cards, that would have led to an England win.
The Lampard incident, the like of which Germans like to call a 'Wembley' for obvious reasons, is now just a match incident rather than a national scandal.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm sure Fabio will stay and he'll address his own situation very soon. I don't know when. Personally I'd like him to stay as I think he's a fantastic manager, but that's my opinion." - England captain Steven Gerrard sneaks in a little caveat to his backing of the under-fire Capello.
FOREIGN VIEW: "Miracles do happen and it's the round of 16 and everything is possible." - Slovakia manager Vladimir Weiss forgets to mention that everything is possible except for England beating Germany at a World Cup.
BOERMY ARMY TWEET OF THE DAY: "@EarlyBoers Nah, the best games are the ones where both teams play well, not a slaughter." - bladetsukasa rightly disagrees with EB's excited mid-match notion that the match in Bloemfontein was the best game of the tournament.
COMING UP: Remember how much fun Euro 2008 was because England weren't in it? Well, now you can recreate that feeling by following the two latest last 16 clashes. Live text commentary of Netherlands v Slovakia (15:00) and Brazil v Chile (19:30) is on its way.