Burnley one step from the Promised Land
At the Madejski Stadium.
As the final whistle sounded at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday evening Burnley boss Owen Coyle turned and walked towards opposite number Steve Coppell, pulling his white club sweatshirt down at his sides as he did so.
He exchanged a word or two with Coppell and then made his way onto the pitch, shaking the hands of the match officials and several opposition players before strolling over to his adoring Burnley supporters.
I couldn't help but think that somehow the act of pulling his sweatshirt down at the sides was significant, it hinted at a pride in his appearance and a respect for his fellow professionals; a man who wants things to be done right.
I thought it was telling that he did that instead of putting his hands in the air at least momentarily after the final whistle, or embracing his backroom staff in celebration. After all, he had just seen his team win 2-0 to book their place in the play-off final on 25 May, where they will take on Sheffield United for a place in the Premier League.
Afterwards Coyle paid generous tribute to Reading before praising his own players after their 60th game of the season had ended in their most significant victory so far. But Coyle explained that the result had given his team an opportunity, nothing more, nothing less, and I cannot help but think that his level headed approach will serve his team well.
Burnley, of course, are now one match away from reaching the Premier League for the first time. This proud Lancashire club has been out of the top flight of English football for the last 33 years and if Coyle was not getting carried away, then the clubs supporters were in a mood to celebrate.
None of them seemed in any rush to leave the stadium and Steve Coppell's post-match news conference was twice interrupted by appeals over the tannoy for them to leave.
"The Burnley players are not coming out again," said the first one. "Please leave the stadium and return to your coaches."
I have been to matches at Reading before - I was there when Birmingham clinched promotion a week or so ago - and I have never heard the sound of away supporters penetrate so loudly into the room where the managers answers questions from the press.
The Royals boss refused to discuss his future in the immediate aftermath of his team's defeat but hours later announced that he was resigning as manager after six years in charge - and there will be a blog later on Coppell.
Coppell's team were the better side for much of the first leg but lost 1-0 and they were on top at the Madejski Stadium until two spectacular goals in seven second-half minutes delivered the killer blow. "The first goal was critical, the second broke our hearts," said the Royals boss.
But his team had come up against a team that knows how to win and has shown a resolve and tenacity that must please their manager. Coyle is quick to point out that his team have plenty of match winners but he will get no argument from me when he argues that "the strength is the team and the group".
The evergreen Graham Alexander, 37 now, has played in every game this season and is close to ensuring his seventh crack at the play-offs ends in victory. He plays in a deep midfield role now and as Coppell argued forms a solid triangle with central defenders Steven Caldwell and Clark Carlisle just behind him.
Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson showed with their spectacular strikes against the Royals what they are capable of doing, while in Wade Elliott and Robbie Blake the Clarets play with plenty of genuine width.
After the season they have had only a fool would suggest they are not capable of ending with victory at Wembley but they won't find it easy against a Blades side that looked extremely capable as they overcame a nuggety Preston team 2-1 on aggregate in their semi-final tie.
Appropriately enough, Kevin Blackwell's charges played with a steel resolve and showed a real cutting edge against a defence that is normally pretty solid at home but was opened up time and time again at Deepdale in the first leg.
I have been impressed by the attitude of Blackwell and his team. There has been a lot of talk about righting the wrongs of the Carlos Tevez affair but I get the feeling that this team does not need any extra motivation. Their low-key celebrations after drawing at Deepdale and winning at Bramall Lane suggested another team that fully understands that anything other than a victory at Wembley will be a failure.
Craig Beattie's finishing against Preston might have been less than convincing, particularly in the first leg, but Blackwell has an astonishing amount of firepower to select from. He had Arturo Lupoli, Billy Sharp and Danny Webber on the bench on Monday, while Darius Henderson and Jamie Ward should be available for the final.
Brian Howard was superb at picking holes in the North End defence while the two home-grown full-backs, Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker, really impressed in the semi-final. Their pace and determination provided an extra dimension in attack but they also looked solid defensively.
For North End their play-off misery continues; eight campaigns, eight failures. Manager Alan Irvine, a dignified and respected individual, said immediately after the tie that the best team had won but he and his team have punched way above their weight and should be given great credit for a terrific season.
They might lack pace and the sort of genuine match winners that the Blades possess in abundance but they have come a long way in the 12 months since they narrowly avoided relegation.
Ultimately, however, Preston, along with Reading, are left to reflect on what might have been, while Burnley and the Blades are now preparing for the final challenge of a long and draining season.
And whoever wins might just finally release all their pent up emotions.