Abuja – The long and winding road of Euro 2020 took Wales further afield than most and, even as it came to a brutal halt in Amsterdam, this was an ending not without a sense of hope.
Even by the standards of this transcontinental tournament, Wales’ was an arduous route to the second round, as they travelled thousands of miles to Baku and Rome for group games before facing Denmark in the Dutch capital.
As Wales contemplated their 4-0 beating, was this more than just their European Championship over; the end of an era?
This squad included eight of the players who took Wales to the historic new heights of the semi-finals at Euro 2016 and, after the final whistle on Saturday, the spotlight inevitably fell on the most famous of those who remain, captain Gareth Bale.
Asked if this would be his final game for his country, the 31-year-old simply walked away.
But while Bale, Aaron Ramsey and others may not have many more of these campaigns left, there was also a feeling that this is a Wales side at the start of something.
Their squad was the third youngest at Euro 2020. This was an ending but one with a nod to the future.
“They might not think that now but, when you strip all the emotion out of it, that will hold us in good stead for the future,” said interim manager Robert Page.
“They’re a young group and there’s World Cup qualifiers around the corner in September, and we’ll go again.
“We’ve had a taste of tournament football now and we want more of it.”