They started filing happily into their seats not long after four o'clock, having made it past the clowns cavorting at the entrance gates – positioned perhaps in case anyone should be seen daring not to smile – and were still there six hours later, possibly wearied by the endless Britpop pumped around the stadium but still revelling in what was.
There were differences. Some easy to spot: London 2013 spelt out the scoreboards in the middle of the arena. Others required Olympic train-spotting badges to pick out – the red, white and blue remote controlled minis deployed to collect javelins and shots were gone. Instead mini-Sainsbury’s delivery vans tore across the in-field.
Three hours after the first of the 65,000 spectators (only actually 5,000 down on the Olympic attendance once media and various other unusable seats are totted up) sat down, the first Briton to receive a roar of approval was the Birchfield Harrier Sally Peake, who juggles a job as a physio for the Football Association of Wales with an athletic career as a pole vaulter. The first event featured Jennifer Suhr , the first of 11 reigning Olympic champions who will compete over the two days of this Diamond League meeting – there is serious business among the reminiscing. Also here was the woman she beat to gold only on countback, the Cuban Yarisley Silva, who is the world leader at the event this year. The Olympic champion and the past two world champions gave the first field a suitably high-class look.
Another 65,000 will return on Saturday when the British interest will be at its peak, although Usain Bolt, after tonight’s 100m, will be back for the final event, the 4x100m relay. Home hopes will centre once again on Mo Farah, with fingers crossed that Jess Ennis comes through her 100m hurdles unscathed before next month’s world championships in Moscow.
“I have great memories of the stadium,” said Farah. “It will be amazing just walking in there and getting the reception. There will be a lot of memories coming back at that point.” He will not be alone in that experience.