Blackpool gone but not forgotten
The strains of "Glory Glory Man Utd" provided an ironic backing track to Blackpool's broken dreams as manager Ian Holloway claimed: "You're famous for two seconds in football then you're gone."
Blackpool's stay in the sun lasted a year from the moment they won promotion to the Premier League at Wembley to the day their ambitions died bravely at the home of the newly-crowned champions. Gone they may be, but they will not be forgotten.
Holloway sat in Old Trafford's media theatre, with sounds of title celebrations in the distance, and was defiant to the last as he railed against what he perceived as Premier League injustices while bursting with pride at the part Blackpool have played in this remarkable season.
Blackpool died as they lived in the top tier. They attacked until the last moments of their top-flight existence and went out on their shields with an Old Trafford standing ovation to accompany them.
Holloway prefaced their last act, a 4-2 defeat at United that is not fully explained by simplicity of the scoreline, by insisting they could not come to Manchester to shut up shop because their shop "never closes".
And so it proved as Blackpool fell behind to Ji-Sung Park's goal before Charlie Adam's free-kick and Gary Taylor-Fletcher's flick sent them soaring up the table.
As scorelines filtered through from elsewhere the hopes of the tangerine hordes rose, only to be snuffed out as Blackpool cracked under the strain and goals from Anderson, an unfortunate diversion into his own net from Ian Evatt and Michael Owen's cool finish sent them down.
In the course of 90 minutes they were out, in and out again amid the Premier League's relegation hokey-cokey that eventually saw them join West Ham United and Birmingham City in the Championship.
Holloway was true to his word until the final kick of the season. The shop never shut, but the problem was that the back door was left open too many times and now the best goods on the shelves may be sold off elsewhere.
Blackpool were on the front foot after beating Wigan 4-0 on the opening day of the season but their attempts at survival were holed below the waterline by defensive deficiencies Holloway was unwilling, or more likely unable, to address.
The concession of 78 goals, so many late in games, was what ultimately restricted Blackpool's stay in the Premier League to one season - and Holloway painted a bleak picture for anyone expecting them to make a swift return.
Charlie Adam's goal underlined why bigger clubs are interested in him - photo: Reuters
Charlie Adam, whose career has been reconstructed under Holloway at Bloomfield Road after stalling at Rangers, gave a display of creativity that underlined his maturity, scoring a wonderful free-kick and prompting all their best moves.
He will now leave, in all likelihood for Liverpool, while David Vaughan has attracted Premier League suitors and others like Stephen Crainey and Matt Gilks are highly unlikely to want to return to the reduced financial and footballing circumstances of the Championship.
The team that took Blackpool up will now break up and the club faces a mighty task in assembling another in a shape that can take them back to the promised land of the Premier League.
Holloway himself may become a target for other clubs after his work with Blackpool this season and the increased profile Premier League life has brought him, although he pledged passionately to see out his contract.
Always more than a chirpy, chippy quote machine - even when launching needless attacks on Aston Villa for having the audacity to show an interest in Adam and nonsensically claiming the Premier League would be "relieved" to see the back of Blackpool - Holloway deserves credit for taking on the division head first.
Amid the gloom he offered a sliver of optimism as he said: "Our castle was made out of sand but there is concrete underneath in our chairman Karl Oyston and how he does things."
If Blackpool's Premier League life is restricted to a single season, they have done themselves and the grand old town proud.
Tied in a financial straitjacket, they still fought the odds with more ambition than anyone expected and when Kenny Dalglish's first Premier League game back in charge of Liverpool ended in defeat on 12 January, this was a story that looked destined to have a happy ending as they completed a remarkable double over the Anfield giants.
Sadly, it signalled the start of a collapse that even a late revival could not salvage, gallant players falling short through a forgiveable lack of quality rather than a shortage of effort, application and determination.
It will be scant consolation, but when the Premier League's equations were being studied before the start of the season the idea of Blackpool still having a fighting chance of survival on the final day was, to most minds, fanciful.
Blackpool entertained every step of the way and there was genuine sadness and sympathy throughout the Premier League at their demise.
"She's put the microphone down, she's finished singing and I don't like the tune," said Holloway in reference to the Fat Lady that is seemingly ever-present on these occasions.
And she was singing a sad lament for a club whose short stay in the Premier League will ensure they remain famous for longer than two seconds.