For Aston Villa, it will be remembered as one of the more harrowing nights of their history. For Bradford, 10th in League Two, bucket-collection skint a few years back and grateful still to be in business, it is difficult to imagine how they could possibly top this moment. Unless, that is, they go to Wembley and actually win the damn thing.
They are the first fourth-division side to reach the final of this competition since Rochdale in 1962 and that, for Villa, brings immeasurable embarrassment. Paul Lambert's side, fourth from bottom of the Premier League, must now go to Millwall in the FA Cup on Friday, with the possibility of more humiliation to come. Whatever happens, it may take a long time before this once-mighty club, former European Cup winners no less, get over losing a two-leg semi-final against a side 62 rungs below them in the ladder of English football.
The inquest will inevitably include questions about Lambert's position but, whatever happens next, nothing should distract from the story of Bradford's achievement. It is one of the great cup stories of modern-day football, not just eliminating Villa but also two other Premier League teams in Arsenal and Wigan Athletic plus one from the Championship in Watford.
James Hanson, Bradford's scorer, was working as a shelf-stacker in the Eccleshill Co-op a couple of years ago. He can now look forward to playing Swansea City or Chelsea at Wembley on 24 February. If the underdogs can take another bite out of the Premier League's reputation, they will be in Europe next season – and, genuinely, this side assembled for the grand total of £7,500 believe they can do it.
For Villa, it is difficult to see where they go from here. They traipsed away to a mix of hostility and disbelief – the Villa fans, to their credit, applauded the Bradford players off the pitch – and the cold, harsh truth is that the substitute Andreas Weimann's 89th-minute goal was scarcely deserved bearing in mind the way the second half had gone.
By that stage Lambert had also brought on Darren Bent to play with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke, giving his side four strikers on the pitch at the same time. It was a desperate ploy that seldom threatened to work. Villa's late onslaught did not conjure up a clear opportunity in the four minutes of stoppage time.
They had threatened to overwhelm their opponents after Benteke scored midway through the first half but their fragility was laid bare once Hanson had equalised, making it 4-2 on aggregate, and what happened after that was humbling for a club of their size and ambitions. Villa had plenty of the ball but did not have the wit or gumption to do the right things with it. They crumpled.
Incredibly, their ordeal might have been even more unbearable if Hanson had not missed an easier chance shortly after his goal. The Bradford substitute Garry Thompson then curled a shot against the crossbar. Villa, by the end, had strayed dangerously close to a full-on loss of nerve, pumping long, hopeful balls towards Benteke. When they needed leadership, there was none. That period revealed a lot about the flaws in this team, the brittleness of their confidence and the scale of repair work Lambert must undertake if the season is not to get even worse.
To put it into context, Bradford's last game was a 4-1 defeat at Crewe Alexandra. The next is against Wycombe Wanderers. Eleven years out of the Premier League, twice into administration and perilously close to being financially shipwrecked, it was probably only inevitable Bradford would be subjected to some sustained pressure.
Yet their spirit of togetherness could not be brought into question. They ran and chased and, if there were failings, they did not originate from stage fright or any sense that the occasion was too big for them. The pressure on their goal was almost incessant during the first half but they never wilted or gave the sense they might collapse. Phil Parkinson talked afterwards about knowing that Villa were vulnerable at set pieces and when the chance arrived they exploited it.
Zavon Hines's persistence on the right wing won the corner. The first was cleared for Gary Jones to get a second chance and this time he picked out the run of Hanson, who eluded Villa's captain, Ron Vlaar, to score with a thumping header.
Until that point Villa had flirted with the idea of producing a performance that might revive their season. Their passing in the first half was crisp and penetrative. Charles N'Zogbia was an elusive opponent, with Stephen Ireland and Fabian Delph pushing forward from midfield. Matt Duke, such a prominent figure for Bradford on this epic run, saved from Benteke and Agbonlahor. Matthew Lowton headed over the crossbar and Delph could not keep his shot down after running through the middle virtually unchallenged.
It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for Bradford, culminating in Joe Bennett's cross picking out Benteke who jutted out one of those tree-trunk legs to score on the volley.
What followed will take its place as one of the truly epic stories in the modern game. And the heroes of Bradford will like to think they can still go one better.