The city was filled with German and Russian visitors on Saturday night, and the evening should have been one of the most exciting in years. Instead, when I walked through the city that night, it was just dead and soulless. Now we have thousands of shocked and confused tourists - some of whom have been shut out of their accommodation - who had just come to Manchester for a good time.
Of course it could have been so much worse. I live a few hundred yards from where the bomb was placed, and I saw the smoke and glass go up. There could so easily have been hundreds dead, as the bomb was left calculatedly in one of the busiest parts of the city. Personally, I cannot believe that they left it where they did. These cowardly barbarians should rot in hell for what they have done.
The IRA may try to salve their consciences by saying they give notice of these bombs, but anyone could have leant against that van and triggered an explosion while the streets were full. In any case, it is only because we had hundreds of extra police on duty to cope with Euro 96 that there was the manpower available to evacuate people as quickly as was done.
For lots of families, it will take a long time for this trauma and stress to depart. People are quite sad now, and we know that there is going to be a serious drop of confidence in the city - and in other British cities, too - among those who shop, live and visit here. But Manchester will bounce back. The challenge is to rebuild confidence in the city, and we will put the building blocks in place to meet that challenge.
The writer is chairman of the City Centre Committee of Manchester City Council.