Jack Grealish rolled back onto the Wembley turf and there he remained. John Stones came over to console him and, one by one, his Aston Villa teammates tried to pick him up, but their captain stayed down.
Grealish had ended the Carabao Cup Final with cramp in his calf, barely able to get up off the floor for a few seconds before Lee Mason blew the final whistle and he was down again.
He was spent. Physically, he had given everything even if this wasn’t his finest hour. Emotionally, it was dawning on him that an opportunity to lift a major trophy for his boyhood club had just gone up in smoke.
Dean Smith had to help Jack Grealish up after he gave everything in the Carabao Cup final
Aston Villa fell short at the final hurdle as Manchester City won the league cup with a 2-1 win
What a difference from last May when he guzzled champagne here after leading Villa to victory in the Championship Playoff Final against Derby County.
Only when manager Dean Smith helped him up did Grealish join a team huddle before peeling away looking utterly crestfallen.
Moments like this don’t come along very often – not for clubs like Villa anyway – and Grealish knows it.
In the 24 years since they last lifted the League Cup, Villa have been to Wembley twice in this competition twice and lost to Manchester United and now Manchester City.
Grealish is Aston Villa's best player, and is on the cusp of making the England squad
It has been a similar story in the FA Cup since they last won it in 1957. Two trips to Wembley, two defeats – to Chelsea and Arsenal.
So history tells us it could be a while before we see this grand old club back on the big stage competing for a major domestic trophy again.
Football, like any sport, only gives you so many big opportunities. Unless, of course, you’re City in which case Wembley trips seem to be a permanent fixture in the calendar these days.
For the rest, though, there are only so many chances in a relatively short playing career to make an indelible mark; only so many trophies and so many finals like this one.
And only Grealish could tell us if that thought is occupying his mind after Villa’s valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to break City’s hold on the Carabao Cup.
He is Villa’s captain, talisman and best player. He is fiercely loyal to the club. But he is also 24,