GB's Barcelona haul - the final verdict
Six days, six golds, 19 record-breaking medals.
If the British team went into the European Championships with a mixed forecast, it left on cloud nine and with rather heavier hand luggage.
Four years ago Britain returned from the Europeans in Gothenburg without a single individual gold medal, the talk dominated by doping bans off the track and struggles on it.
Compared to that, the haul from Barcelona seems to sparkle like the Font Magica. But behind those simple numbers, just how good a performance was this?
Medals first of all. The UK Sport target going into the week was for 10-15 in total - which always felt rather vague - with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee aiming for 14. Both those have been knocked into a cocked sombrero. Had so many big names (Ohuruogu, Rutherford, Yamauchi, Sotherton, Mason) not been back in Blighty injured, the tally might have been greater still.
As it was, it was the nation's best total in the 72 years the Europeans have been running. Whether this automatically makes it Britain's greatest display is less clear-cut. In Split in 1990 half the 18 medals won were gold.
Then again, the haul this year was achieved with a much smaller team. In 1990 Britain filled 91 of the 124 spots available in various events, compared to only 61 of 130 possible places this time around.
Let's dig deeper. There were nine personal bests this week from British athletes. Should we be impressed with that?
On one hand, there were 72 British athletes in Barcelona. Two of those marks came from a single athlete, Jess Ennis (javelin, overall points score). PBs from just a tenth of the team might not seem such a big deal.
On the other, those PBs won medals. For the second year in succession Phillips Idowu produced one when it mattered most to win gold; Ennis saved her heptathlon when under severe pressure with that javelin mark.
They were also big chunks that were taken off - almost half a second for Perri Shakes-Drayton, eight for steeplechaser Hattie Dean. Dai Greene's put him joint-second in the UK all-time rankings.
Then there's the logic. PBs are more likely to come from younger competitors as they develop, yet many of Britain's medals were from mature athletes (Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis, Chris Tomlinson). Several youngsters who could have made the team were not in Barcelona, either because they went to the World Juniors a fortnight ago instead (Jodie Williams) or were not picked despite having the European qualifying standard (sprint hurdler Lawrence Clarke, discus thrower Brett Morse).
What of the standards the medal-winners achieved?
"There have been some great races, but the quality of the performances has been variable in world terms," says Steve Cram, double European champion over 1500m.
"Even within the individual events the standards varied - the semi-finals of the men's 400m were very good, and not so much in the final; the women's 400m was the other way round."
Both Phillips Idowu and Ennis beat pretty much the best athletes in their event globally to take gold. Dai Greene, Andy Turner and Mo Farah faced less competitive fields. Does that cheapen the British achievements in any way?
"For a lot of athletes this will be the peak of their careers, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that," says Cram. "It is extremely tough to win world and Olympic titles, and being able to say you're the best in Europe is a big achievement. All you can do at a championships is to beat what's there.
"The lesser medals should be read in different ways for different athletes: bronze for Shakes-Drayton signalled the real start of her career and possible ascent to the very top; Christian Malcolm's silver was great for him, but he's not dreaming of winning a gold at the Olympics.
"Almost a third of the British athletes have won medals, which is extremely impressive, and at the other end of the scale not many have underperformed - you have to think hard to come up with examples of outright failures.
"We have some very good athletes, a few of whom will move on to challenge at world and Olympic level. But we don't suddenly have 20 world-beaters."
The success was not equally spread throughout the team. The British men did rather better than their female compatriots, winning more medals than any other nation, even if French men won more golds.
But in the stories of some were fine examples of the success hard work and dedication can bring. Athletes who had been written off came back to triumph, not for the cash or kudos but because medals mattered to them.
Turner had been taken off Lottery funding and struggled all summer long with Achilles problems. Despite that he refused to give up or go away. "I love the sport," he said after storming to sprint hurdles gold, and that came through too in the late flowering of Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and Chris Thompson.
Farah was perhaps the best case-study in sacrifice. Five years ago he took the decision to commit everything to his running, living a sparse monastic lifestyle, moving house, moving away from his family for long periods. Neither was the pay-off instant, but he stuck at it. His distance double was fitting reward.
In the reaction of other podium finishers was more reason for optimism. Four years ago GB bronze medals were celebrated wildly. Here, even silvers were barely considered good enough. Rhys Williams refused to do a lap of honour after winning his behind Greene in the 400m hurdles, while Michael Rimmer looked like he had been handed a prison sentence rather than a prize in his 800m medal ceremony.
Van Commenee sees a mixed picture. "Quite a few athletes stepped up a level, but also there is a lot of work to be done," he told BBC Sport on Sunday night.
"We have too many athletes at home with injuries, and we don't have enough athletes in the field events, especially on the women's side. It's about taking accountability for success but also failure."
In the two years since Van Commenee took over as head coach, Britain has exceeded expectations at both a World Championships and Europeans. How much credit should Van Commenee take for the successes?
"It's a hard question to answer," says Cram. "There are lots of different people having an influence and who have been doing that for a long time, and who don't get mentioned when these discussions start.
"People don't talk about Aston Moore, and what's he's done for Phillips Idowu as his coach, or the importance to Mo Farah of Ian Stewart, Ricky Simms or Alan Storey. For Mo the best thing Charles has done is just let him get on with it.
"The overall ethos he's instilled of setting the bar high - within the team, within the support staff - is one I support. And if that's his biggest achievement, that's a good thing."
Even as the finale fireworks were exploding above the Estadio Olympico on Sunday, thoughts were turning to the London and the 2012 Olympics. Should the nation be optimistic that the reign in Spain bodes well for track and field success in the capital?
"I think we're in really good shape with two years to go," said Lord Coe, chairman of the 2012 organising committee.
"What Charles needed to do was challenge the culture of British athletics, take people out of their comfort zone. This is a team on the move. They're looking like they want to be in the stadium. There is still a long way to go, but there is light at the end of the tunnel."
As a whole, these European Championships were like paella - tasty in places, stodgy in others.
New stars were born, led by French sprint sensation Christophe Lemaitre, but they were not always watched by big crowds. While the organisers trumpeted a post-event profit of 42 million Euros, the bums on seats count was less impressive. The venue was splendid, reeking of sporting history; the mascot Barni a half-baked shambles.
The best moments, from a selfish point of view? Mo's sprint to victory in the 5,000m, and Ennis's reaction when Dobrynska tried to go past her in the 800m. The best quote? "That was the greatest half an hour of my life," courtesy of Chris Thompson and his 10,000m silver.
What will make it all stick in the memory are two things: the many thrilling finishes to constant ding-dong contests, and the almost permanent sight of a Union flag on a lap of honour.
The pulse raced almost as often as the athletes. And that is what sport is all about.