At the end, when they had reached the field from the stands strewn with banners like the one which states "Some might say we will find a better day" the supporters did not know how they were supposed to let the exhilaration out. Some thumped the turf, others just lay out across it on their backs in the sun. The anthem called "This is how it feels to be City" played out. The truth is that they may never feel that way again.
There was some stage management – pre-printed shirts with the 'Champions' legend and a clock ticking down from 44 years to mark the wait since the 1968 championship. But the players looked dazed, unable to take in the fine margin between triumph and a disaster which could have taken years to recover from. "It's one big blur for me, whatever happened," Vincent Kompany admitted.
Manchester United were 1/33 to win the title, having competed their 1-0 win at Sunderland, before Sergio Aguero delivered the gift that seemed worth the £38m outlay on him, with 93 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.
"After this I feel 90 years old," said the Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. "I think we have changed the history of this club, and for this we should be proud.
"I think it was a crazy finish for a crazy season. I have never seen a final day like this. The best team won the title. I think we played the best football, conceded less goals, scored more goals, beat United two times."
Kompany added that "miracles do happen in Manchester, on our side of the road this time".
His grin might not have been shared by the father who marched out of the stadium, his son of junior-school age in tow behind him, two minutes before the finale. Dozens had left before the turnaround.
Mancini said last night that "we changed the history of this club [and] for this we should be proud".
Of Sir Alex Ferguson's declaration that City had put three years of energy into him, the City manager observed: "Fergie said he's too young to retire. We're happy he has three years left. I hope we can continue to win. In two or three years, maybe he can have 10 years less."
Kompany, whose side's parade of the trophy will set off from Manchester's Albert Square at 6.30pm tonight, described the moment that Aguero's goal had complemented Edin Dzeko's 91st-minute goal, to turn around a 2-1 deficit. "[Aguero] was crying on the floor. Other guys were pouring their eyes out; strong personalities who you don't see get emotional often and all of a sudden it was finished."
And in the midst of this Joey Barton was last night facing the Premier League's first 10-game ban for conduct which is likely to mean that he has played his last game in the top flight. Mark Hughes avoided the subject but Barton will receive a three-game ban for his dismissal after elbowing Carlos Tevez, a fourth because it is his second red of the season and may get an additional three for kneeing Aguero in the back of the leg. That third red would trigger an additional two-game ban.
He also attempted to headbutt Kompany. "Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f**k we are safe," Barton tweeted last night. "The head was never gone at any stage. Once I had been sent off one of our players suggested I should try to take 1 of their with me."
But this was about City. "Now it's important that we start to win a second title," Mancini said.Reuse content