Round and round the Vicente Calderón the song went, Atlético Madrid's anthem bellowed out by 50,000 voices. "Porque siempre la afición se estremece con pasión", ran the line: because the fans always shake with passion. And they were shaking. "Atleti, Atleti, Atlético de Madrid!" The chant switched to "may the Calderón jump" and they jumped. Then as the players headed down the tunnel, it switched once more: "Luis Aragonés, Luis Aragonés!"
A few minutes later, the players were back by popular demand, some of them half-undressed. No one had gone home. They did a lap of honour and as they passed the Barcelona supporters the clapping continued. The defeated knew this was a unique moment too. Atlético's captain, Gabi, had already described these as the best days of their lives. Theirs and the club's. "Apart from [David] Villa, for all of us it is a unique feeling to have reached the semi-final," Gabi said. Atlético had reached the last four of the European Cup for the first time in 40 years, back when Aragonés played. He scored in the 1974 final against Bayern, becoming coach the year after the defeat in a replay.
Diego Simeone insisted before Wednesday's game that the "positive energy" of the fans would be fundamental. On Saturday, during the league game against Villarreal, he had choreographed the Calderón; it turned out to be a dress rehearsal for Wednesday night. "With these fans it's impossible to lose," said the midfielder Koke. "They played," Gabi said. If so, that is yet another of Simeone's successes: the cracks at the Calderón were chasms when he took over, now the communion is complete. So, thanks to the suffering and the scale of their success, is the enjoyment.
For the players, too. Few represented that better than Adrián. The Asturian striker had not even been in the squad for five of Atlético's six games; in style, he is the least "Simeone" of the squad, a man it seemed few trusted in. But the coach built him up and he was brilliant. "When Costa got injured there was no other player in my head than Adrián," Simeone said. "I'm very happy for him."
Atlético's annual budget is €120m, compared with €580m up the road at the Bernabéu. They are not poor exactly, but their most expensive player is the €12m Filipe Luís, signed four years ago, before belts were properly tightened. This is not really a team of stars.
A free signing from São Paulo, João Miranda, now looks like an astonishing bit of business. Villa came for an initial fee of €2m (£1.65m); he was delighted to have the chance to restart a career that appeared to be stagnating at the Camp Nou, where he had suffered a broken leg and slipped from the side. Gabi's last club was Real Zaragoza, with whom he suffered a relegation. Adrián had been relegated with Deportivo and Diego Costa with Valladolid.
Costa, remember, had the apparently impossible task of replacing last season's top scorer, Radamel Falcao. This is the first season of his career when he went into the summer knowing where he would be playing; five times he had been loaned out, to Braga, Celta, Albacete, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano. His best scoring total was 10 but he has been La Liga's outstanding player this season, scorer of 25 league goals, seven in five in the Champions League, fought over by two international teams: Spain and Brazil, World Cup hosts and holders.
Everyone in the team has improved, everyone's value has risen. Even Arda Turan, the most expensive of the recent signings at just under €12m in 2011, would be worth more now. Perhaps only Adrián's value had not risen – and now look.
In the case of the goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, his value has risen immediately. Atlético want to avoid Chelsea because, as their president, Enrique Cerezo, told Al Primer Toque radio show, there is a clause in his contract that means that Atlético would have to pay a penalty for him to play against the club that owns him. Reports suggested it was "prohibitive", some placing the figure at €6m. It says much that it is probably worth paying. Courtois wants to play, of course.
That is now; other tough decisions will be made in the summer. The inevitable consequence of a club emerging and overachieving, a club where sales are inevitable and salaries comparatively low, is that other clubs covet their players. Koke, a youth-team product, has been watched by English clubs while Costa's €38m buyout clause will deter few, with Chelsea among the keenest to sign him. It is natural, if sad, that they should be tempted to go elsewhere, especially if they believe that this is the peak; in the long run, the only way now is down. Rivals will reinforce and Atlético will not be able to match them.
But Atlético keep overcoming the obstacles, breaking the mould. And nowhere else will ever be the same, as special as this. The noise at the Calderón suggested as much on Wednesday. After the game, Simeone was asked about Costa's future and the interest from Stamford Bridge. "But surely he's not going to find a club like this one?" his inquisitor said. The Atlético manager smiled. "I like your question," he replied. "We can envy other teams' economic power but when it comes to competing we don't envy anyone anywhere."
"This is one of those days you remember for ever," said Villa, winner of a European Cup with Barcelona when he scored in the final. "This is a club that has been through bad times, which means that success feels better here."