South Africa and the World Cup changed forever
2010 World Cup: Johannesburg
As Spain's triumphant players returned to joyous scenes in Madrid, the rest of the world was reflecting on a tournament which may have transformed South Africa but left some people with mixed feelings.
It is hard to believe now, after a month which has gone more smoothly than anyone here could have expected, that for years there were doubts over South Africa's ability to organise this event.
Fans would be stabbed and robbed, it was claimed. The transport system would break down and the stadiums would not be ready.
Yes, there were problems. Some of my BBC colleagues were mugged in Johannesburg; the Durban airport fiasco meant many supporters with tickets to the semi-final between Spain and Germany did not get in to see the game, and corporate fans turned their back on the World Cup, leaving Match, Fifa's hospitality partners, out of pocket.
But fears about crime and security were largely unfounded. More than 3m enthusiastic vuvuzela-blowing fans went to matches at stadiums which were magnificent. Whenever problems arose they were often overcome by a helpful, smiling volunteer.
There may be questions over the future use of some of the 10 stadiums, which cost over £1bn to develop or renovate, particularly the venues in Nelspruit and Polokwane. Even Soccer City does not have a regular tenant lined up, although talks are ongoing with the Golden Lions rugby team.
A-Z of the World Cup in South Africa
But the more important and enduring legacy - one which cannot be defined by buildings or new train lines - is the boost to South Africa's international image. Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the organising committee, spoke on Sunday of the country crossing a psychological barrier.
And Archbishop Desmond Tutu told me in an interview that even he had been surprised by the way all colours and races had united in the common cause during this World Cup.
"We have all talked about the rainbow nation," he said. "But we are the caterpillar that has become the beautiful butterfly. If you had told me we would be experiencing what we are experiencing, I would have asked 'Who is your psychiatrist?'"
But for the millions - make that billions - who watched this tournament on television around the world there is a sense that the quality of the football was underwhelming.
Part of that may be explained by England's abject performance in South Africa. Had Fabio Capello's team played better and made it past Germany in the second round then people in England may have felt differently.
Another explanation may come from the level of expectation that burdens any World Cup. People demand to be dazzled by the world's best players but, for whatever reason, that definitely did not happen here.
Spain were fitting winners but we rarely saw them perform to their brilliant best. The most exciting football came from Joachim Loew's young German side, in particular the Golden Boot winner Thomas Mueller, who, at 20, must be one of the most exciting players to emerge for many years.
Diego Forlan, the Golden Ball winner, was a lethal marksman here but is he really the best footballer in the world? David Villa showed why Barcelona paid £34m for him, even at the age of 29, while it was fitting that the brilliant Andres Iniesta should turn from creator to match-winner in the final against a depressingly cynical Dutch team.
The debate over why the players with the biggest reputations - Wayne Rooney, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and, to a certain extent, Lionel Messi - did not perform will probably rage until the next World Cup.
Was it the Jabulani ball, the long European season, poor management or the altitude changes in South Africa?
A more considered explanation comes from greater footballing experts than this correspondent who say this has been the tournament of the team rather than the individual. Coaches like Vicente del Bosque, who sacrifices individual ego for the sake of the greater cause, and Oscar Tabarez of Uruguay have shown what organisation and discipline can achieve.
Even the smaller nations such as South Korea and Japan have advanced and shown they can compete with the bigger countries.
"There might be small countries but there is no such thing as small national teams any more," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter on Monday. He also gave South Africa nine out of 10 for the way they have organised this event.
So what have we learned from this World Cup?
That whatever happens on the pitch the unique atmosphere and sense of history that has pervaded the entire tournament will be hard to match wherever it goes in the future.
As with the Beijing Olympics two years ago - but for far less sinister reasons, it must be pointed out - this felt like a nation's coming out party, a chance to show off to the world. And it was a joy, and a privilege, to be here to witness it.
No man did more to bring the World Cup to Africa for the first time than former president Nelson Mandela - and his appearance at the age of 91 in Soccer City on Sunday reminded everyone of the power of football.
But the last month has also left a nagging feeling about the scale of the World Cup - the overbearing commercialism, the number of teams and the huge demands it places on a host nation.
Brazil is up next in 2014 and already there are serious concerns about the state of the country's preparations. Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of Fifa, has played a major role in ensuring the success of this World Cup. He knows he has to do it all over again.
He summed up the scale of the task on Monday when he said, somewhat tongue in cheek: "The main problem is we have to build some stadiums, some roads......some airports, some accommodation. So it's just business as usual."
Ultimately, the prospect of a World Cup in the warmer climes of Brazil is a mouth-watering prospect - especially after a winter tournament which ended up feeling like Euro 2010 on safari.
And most people will hope the home of the beautiful game will inspire a more thrilling football spectacle in four years time.