Same story, different year for Brit pack
The reasoning, if reckless, was simple: for the first time since 2006, five British players had made it through to the second round of Wimbledon.
Thursday would see if further miracles could be wrought in the rare summer sunshine: perhaps three players into the third round for the first time since 2002, or two women out of round two for the first time in 26 years.
Anne Keothavong was the first British faller on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images
This being British tennis, it came as a disappointment rather than a surprise.
With Andy Murray marching onto Centre Court for his duel with heavy-serving Ivo Karlovic at almost exactly the same time that James Ward was about to take on Mardy Fish on No.1 Court, there was still time for something uplifting to emerge.
Murray had his work cut out, but gradually began to exert control, just as most expected. Just as no-one expected, the unheralded Ward came back from a 6-3 first set loss to win the second 7-5, against a man ranked 161 places higher than him in the world.
Hope, always present in the hearts of British fans, even if latent, sprang again when Ward battled back from match point down to take the contest into a fifth set as Murray wriggled past Karlovic in their fourth-set tie-break.
On Henman Hill, the reddening fans - and they are fans on Henman Hill, rather than the more pretentious or po-faced patron - cheered and drank and whooped it up.
It couldn't last. Rankings can be wrong, but they are seldom entirely inaccurate. Fish gradually took control, slowly at first and then with growing dominance to bring the dream to an end 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.
If only Elena Baltacha had been able to take inspiration. Her straight sets defeat to fourth seed Petra Kvitova may have been predictable, but 0-6 4-6 still stung nonetheless. Murray is through.
So is Heather Watson, who if she beats Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday will be the first British woman in the last 16 since Sam Smith in 1998.
Behind them, it all looks all too familiar, all too predictable.
"We're always looking for positives and it is a positive, but it's the same old story really," says John Lloyd, former French Open finalist and Wimbledon mixed doubles champion.
"We get a win or two and we're so happy about it, but for the outlay and what we put into the game it should be normal, to be honest.
"Yes, it's nice to see British players winning some matches, but it isn't that good in the grander scheme of things. It's still not what it should be."
James Ward went down fighting against American Mardy Fish. Photo: AFP
It's now 15 years since Britain had four players in the third round of Wimbledon. Murray, famously, owes his success as much to his mother's coaching and the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona as he does the Lawn Tennis Association.
Roger Draper has overseen a shake-up of elite development at the LTA, turning the focus from big-name coaches to home-grown talent. Leon Smith is now not only Davis Cup captain but performance director in all but name.
Has it done anything to re-write the narrative of British disappointment at Wimbledon?
"It's good to see British players picking up a few wins but they should be given the amount of investment," says Jo Durie, former world number five.
"If you go back to Virginia Wade's time or even mine - I followed after Virginia, Ann Jones and Sue Barker - we had quite a few getting through rounds.
"There's so much more media coverage than in those days that everything is hyped up so much and there's maybe more pressure on them to perform, it's harder - but the funding everyone gets now is unbelievable.
"Honestly, we hardly had anything. So where are the hundreds of them?
"The LTA's decision to switch from high-profile coaches was key for the future. There's some very good coaches out there and it's critical that we allow these coaches to have their journey with their players because how else will you learn and get to the top?
"Let's all work together. We are trying to do that. If you don't back the clubs and the club coaches, and give them incentives and motivation to produce players, we'll never improve.
"My little club in Bristol when I was 11 or 12 had loads of juniors, with a coach who was very proactive and really did his own thing. It's all about people rather than places.
"The problem is that the so-called 'success' comes in batches. We've got four women at the moment who are doing well. After them, what are we looking at?
"In the men, we're scrabbling around a bit, to be truthful. Grass is a strange surface, it's a great time for Brits to get wins - and at Wimbledon, in particular, with mega ranking points on offer - but it's what you do in the rest of the year.
"The four girls do perform in the rest of the year, which is great. But the men are nowhere near those kind of standards."
Additional reporting by David Ornstein.