The Three Lions had hoped 44 years of hurt would end in South Africa. It did. German hurt.
When Frank Lampard’s first-half shot crashed off the bar and bounced a clear two feet over the line, only for assistant Mauricio Espinosa to miss it, grainy images of England’s controversial third at Wembley in 1966 immediately sprang to mind.
To his total disbelief, Capello’s celebrations of what would have been an equaliser were cut short. Everyone in the ground, except the men who mattered, knew what had happened.
Germany made the most of their good fortune, as England did back then, to book a quarter-final place with what turned out to be their biggest win over their old rivals and the Three Lions’ biggest defeat in Finals combat.
Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski’s first half-goals were doubled by a pair from the excellent Thomas Muller after the break.
But no-one will be talking about them on the streets of England. Nor will they discuss a Matthew Upson header that brought the Three Lions back into it.
Eventually they might get round to the clear defensive deficiencies in a team Capello claimed was good enough to reach the final.
But from Berwick to Land’s End, Carlisle to Dover, all they will snarl and rage at his how on earth Lampard’s shot was missed. The stench will tinge the remainder of a tournament England will play no part of.
In a stormy few weeks, Franz Beckenbauer’s first attempt to stoke Anglo-German relations came when he branded England a long-ball team.
Yet a true exponent of the art would surely be pretty good at defending it.
England had already been warned. One long punt down field from David James required a single bounce to rocket over the goal-line.
So there was no excuse for John Terry being so far upfield when Manuel Neuer launched the ball from his six-yard line that he was taken completely out of the play by its flight.
Upson was left one-on-one with Klose and had neither agility, nor the strength to prevent the striker advancing on James and poking the ball into the England goal.
It was the start of an exceptionally uncomfortable period for Capello’s side as Germany rampaged right through the heart of their midfield almost at will.
Mesut Ozil was an obvious problem, but Muller – the 20-year-old who helped destroy Manchester United with Bayern Munich this term – was emerging as the real danger man.
When he skipped off the right flank onto Klose’s short pass, the English defence was again ripped to shreds.
Despite his tender years, Muller retained a cool enough head to flick the ball square to Podolski, whose finish, from a tight angle, went straight through James’ legs and in off the post.
As James had already made two feet-first saves as German eyes lit up at a clear sight of goal, it seemed there was no way back for a team being completely outmanoeuvred.
Yet in a confrontation dripping with history, nothing is really new.
For two goal comebacks, think Leon 1970, when Sir Alf Ramsey made the fateful mistake of whisking off Bobby Charlton with a semi-final place supposedly assured.
Upson’s reaction header from Steven Gerrard’s cross brought that dream a bit closer to being realised.
As they celebrated, little did England know that within 60 seconds their opponents were about to enjoy the ultimate act of revenge.
It is frankly ludicrous that Sepp Blatter and his FIFA mandarins continue to shrug their shoulders at such injustices as the one Lampard suffered when the entire stadium, through all manner of new technology, knew within minutes the ball had crashed off Neuer’s bar and bounced at least two feet over the line.
It was not even close, which is what David Beckham was presumably telling the South American officials as they made their way off at half-time.
Within seven minutes of the restart England were suffering again as Lampard let fly from fully 35 yards with a free-kick that again shook Neuer’s crossbar. At least this time there was no claim for a goal.
It sparked a frenzied second half though, by far the most compelling period of play in the entire tournament, Germany defending manically, then trying to break on the counter.
Bastian Schweinsteiger had already come close to killing the game when another Lampard free-kick cannoned off the wall. Gareth Barry was neatly robbed, Muller set Schweinsteiger free and began a run that ended with him burying England’s World Cup dream.
Germany were not finished. With their opponents committed to desperate attack, Ozil raced past Barry with alarming ease and presented a gleeful Muller with a tap-in.
Four goals for the victors. Just like 66.
Germany Neuer, Lahm, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Boateng, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Muller (Trochowski 72), Ozil (Kiessling 83), Podolski, Klose (Gomez 72).
Subs Not Used: Wiese, Jansen, Aogo, Tasci, Badstuber, Cacau,
Kroos, Marin, Butt.
Goals: Klose 20, Podolski 32, Muller 67, 70.
England James, Johnson (Wright-Phillips 87), Terry, Upson, Ashley Cole, Milner (Joe Cole 63), Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Defoe (Heskey 71), Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Green, Dawson, Lennon, Crouch, Warnock,
Carragher, King, Carrick, Hart.
Goals: Upson 37.
Ref: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).