For Arsenal, there is reassurance and no little credit in the familiar. Their membership of Europe's most exclusive football club has been renewed. For the 17th consecutive season, they have qualified for the Champions League, even if they will need a seventh play-off in nine years to make it to the group phase.
Arsenal knew that a fourth-placed Premier League finish was secure before West Bromwich Albion rolled into town, thanks to Manchester City's defeat of Everton on Saturday and there was an end-of-season feel to the proceedings on their side, if not that of the visitors.
The most uplifting moment came after the post-match lap of appreciation to mark the club's final home game, when Bacary Sagna's little boy dribbled the length of the field and, to huge smiles and cheers from the crowd, banged a ball that looked almost as big as him into the net. Mikel Arteta's son followed suit to prove that Arsenal do have end product.
The lap from the players and their children was notable for the plaintive cries from the home support towards Sagna Sr. They want him to stay, rather than depart on a Bosman free transfer, and they told him so again and again. But as omens went, the sight of him asking the club photographer to take a snap of him with his wife and two children on the Emirates Stadium pitch did not look too positive.
There was rather less of a clamour for Arsène Wenger to sign his new contract and stay but maybe it is because the fans know that he will do so. The manager has given his word on many occasions and he was at it again here.
"I told you many times," Wenger said. "My word is my word and I'm from an ancestral period where you didn't need a pen to commit." That got a laugh, although his reasons for waiting and waiting, for dragging this saga until the very last, possibly beyond even the FA Cup final, in which Arsenal will face Hull City, continued to baffle.
There was, however, a clue. "It's not linked with the FA Cup at all [but] it was, of course, important to be in the Champions League," Wenger said. The path to the quill and ink is now surely clear.
"I have [had] no moments of doubt," Wenger added. "If I had moments of doubt, they would have been a few years ago when I had to say 'no' to many offers, and I committed to this club under a lot of pressure."
The afternoon became a discussion for Arsenal fans about whether their glasses were half-full or half-empty. They had been in title contention until the visit to Chelsea on 22 March and so in one sense, the top-four place – the bare minimum requirement of the season – has failed to quicken the pulses. Wenger lamented again how the campaign had been scarred by the high-profile away-day drubbings, most gruesomely the 6-0 at Stamford Bridge, which reignited all of those questions about Arsenal's knowhow.
But Champions League qualification is not something to be sniffed at and Wenger can make a case for having overseen progress. Arsenal have, at least, competed for the title and if they win the FA Cup, they will be able to sell it as a positive season. Much still rests on the final.
It was a more important day for Albion, given the fight to preserve their Premier League status and their first-half performance, in particular, was a worry. They conceded when Craig Dawson failed to contain Olivier Giroud on Santi Cazorla's corner and the striker headed his 22nd goal of the season.
The visitors were slightly better in the second half and Wojciech Szczesny had to block from Morgan Amalfitano in the 72nd minute but Arsenal always looked comfortable. With Mesut Özil a threat, they created the better chances and Lukas Podolski sliced against the post on 76 minutes.
Albion could celebrate in the end when Norwich City's failure to win at Chelsea ensured their survival but the manager Pepe Mel did not inspire much optimism, either with regard to his future or that of the club. He said he would discuss whether he would stay for another year after the final game at home to Stoke City while he mentioned again the dozen or so players that will be out of contract in the summer. "West Brom has a lot of work to do," Mel said.
Man of the match Mesut Özil (Arsenal)