One commentator had actually included "the Russian linesman" in the list of old stories about this fixture that it was time to consign to the past as England looked to new horizons and new hope. Tofik Bakhramov was Azerbaijani, to be precise, and the 44 years since he allowed Geoff Hurst's goal to stand at Wembley has been long enough to recognise him as something other than Russian.
Of course, it's never entirely been proven that the Hurst goal didn't cross the line on the afternoon when Bakhramov's flag – just like Mauricio Espinosa's yesterday – remained pinned resolutely to his side. But yesterday's was something quite different – an extraordinary injustice, an error that made the Pedro Mendes effort for Tottenham against Manchester United five years ago look like a marginal call.
It took a while for the reality to hit the supporters who had not had the benefit of the replays played over and over in the media tribune, where journalists jumped to their feet and protested, as if they might succeed where Frank Lampard's screams had failed. Minutes later, as word spread through the stands, familiar chants against the referee drowned out the vuvuzelas.
Some of that abuse might have been addressed to the man in the stand who was watching the replays. It was Sepp Blatter, who has recently discovered Twitter, on which he revealed yesterday that he was "leaving for Bloemfontein for the next chapter in a match which has created World Cup history."
Blatter is behind the decision to refuse the goal-line technology which would have prevented Espinosa's extraordinary decision standing. "Fans love to debate any given incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport," was one of his more recent dismissals of an idea last discussed at the International Football Association Board in Zurich, in March. The home unions of Great Britain supported the idea but Fifa rejected it.
Espinosa was left in no doubt about the folly of his decision. Wayne Rooney saw to that and David Beckham at last showed why he is at this tournament by adding his contribution as the players walked off. There were remostrations to the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda too, and for good reason, considering his position 15 yards from goal with a clear view of the incident. Capello raged but Larrionda was oblivious. This is the individual who enraged Serbian coach Raddy Antic in this tournament by refusing a penalty against Australia and who whose last World Cup included the questionable dismissal of three players in the Italy v USA game. He still went on to officiate in the France v Portugal semi-final.
Briefly, it seemed England were ready to build something out of their indignation. Wayne Rooney, perhaps ready, at last, to set the tournament alight, began terrorising Arne Friedrich, the weak link England's pre-match talk had centred on. But the promise of justice briefly offered by Frank Lampard thumping a ball against the bar subsided when England's fragile defence capitulated to counter-attack.
And so, to go with Peter Bonetti's scapegoating in 1970 – when he was a late replacement for an ill Gordon Banks – and the general wretchedness of the shoot-out, England have a new sense of injustice. Except this one is genuine.
Capello's side may have defended, almost from the outset, in a fashion he would rarely have countenanced during his rich club career in Italy and Spain and which, some might say, denied England the right to cry "injustice". But the disallowed goal was pivotal. It was the event which could have changed the entire course of the afternoon, sent Germany into the interval as devastated as England would have been invigorated.
A wonderful save by Manuel Neuer from Steven Gerrard even denied England the symmetry of a 4-2 to go with '66. Instead the angst was illustrated by a single vignette – John Terry screaming abuse at the German bench ten minutes before the end – which told the story of golden generation realising that their hour was passing.
Man for man marking:
David James Little he could do about the first two goals and had every reason to complain about the defending. Good saves, without which damage would be worse. 6
Glenn Johnson Could not cope with Lukas Podolski and had his hands full without having any serious opportunity to get forward. Booked and then replaced. 3
Ashley Cole Plenty to occupy him down Germany's right flank without having too much time or opportunity to push forward. Solid tackles when he got close enough. 4
John Terry Scored winner in last meeting but had more to worry about in defence, where he and Upson were often embarrassingly exposed. 4
Matthew Upson Scored England's first goal, as in the Berlin friendly, which made only partial amends for being pulled all over the place by Klose. Caught badly for opening goal. 4
Steven Gerrard Worked as hard as anyone, drifting as ever to centre and right from where he produced good cross for Upson's goal. Unlucky not to score at 4-1. 6
Frank Lampard Did he crack the mirror or run over a black cat? Scandalously denied one goal and hit the bar with dipping free-kick. Could hold his head up. 7
Gareth Barry Found controlling the gifted Ozil as difficult as feared. Shockingly outpaced when the little German went past him for fourth goal. 4
James Milner Not as effective as in previous game. Crossing mixed this time and after having one shooting chance blocked was substituted midway through second half. 5
Wayne Rooney Despite improving at start of second half, gradually grew more frustrated at having so little chance to break his England duck going back to September. 5
Jermain Defoe Unfortunate with header then hit bar when only marginally offside. But overall made little impression and was replaced by Heskey towards the end. 5
Joe Cole Little chance to change the game after replacing Milner. 5
Emile Heskey Not seen after coming on for Defoe towards the end. 4
Shaun Wright-Phillips No time to do anything. n/a
Not used: R Green, J Hart, M Dawson, S Warnock, J Carragher, L King, A Lennon, M Carrick, P Crouch.
Manuel Neuer Deserved his luck with the Lampard "goal" after some good handling and the unexpected bonus of setting up a goal. Less impressive with Upson's header. 7
Arne Friedrich Experienced defender tidied up alongside Mertesacker, allowing Rooney little scope. One superb recovery to halt Defoe inside the penalty area. 7
Philip Lahm German captain was as composed as ever at right back, settling for defence without breaking forward as much as usual. Steadying influence. 7
Per Mertesacker The big centre-half had been below-par in previous games and occasionally made a misjudgment but was good in the air. 6
Jerome Boateng Left-back bound for Manchester City was passed fit for the match and did well, limiting Milner on England's right to just one dangerous first-half cross which nearly led to a goal.7
Sami Khedira The less spectacular of the two holding midfielders was overshadowed by Schweinsteiger and allowed Lampard some scope but was still invaluable. 6
Bastian Schweinsteiger Germans gambled on having the Bayern midfielder fit, which paid off handsomely. Superb worked contribution to the third goal on the break. 8
Mesut Ozil As much of a handful as in the Under-21 final against England last summer. Too clever for Barry and was even given last ten minutes off. 9
Lukas Podolski Has come through a difficult domestic season but coach Löw's faith in him was justified. Too good for Johnson and took his goal in fine style . 8
Miroslav Klose Another forward coming into the tournament in poor form – not rated by Bayern Munich but unstoppable at World Cups. Super stretching finish for opening goal. 8
Thomas Müller Fine finish for third goal in between some wild shooting. Calmly took fourth. Kept Cole pinned back and deserved his ovation if not man of the match. 8
Piotr Trochowski Fresh legs on for Müller's tired ones. 7
Mario Gomez On as lone striker, kept pressure on. 7
Stefan Kiessling Late replacement for Ozil. n/a
Not used: T Wiese, H J Butt, M Jansen, S Tasci, H Badstuber, D Aogo, T Kroos, M Marin, Cacau.Reuse content