As Lincoln’s players absorbed the experience by accepting the invitation to mingle with their counterparts in the home dressing room at the end of it all, it was important to make sure that City took care of some essential business. A member of Arsenal’s staff duly emerged from a cupboard with a broom, remarking: “They’ve asked for a hoover.” The broom was the best they could magic up at that moment. At Premier League level they are not used to requests from the opposition to clean the visitors’ dressing room. Whatever the circumstances, though, Danny Cowley insists on it. “The All Blacks call it ‘sweep the decks’, don’t they? If it is good enough for the All Blacks, it’s good enough for us,” he says.

The gesture felt poignant, especially as there had been a brief commotion when Arsenal left their dressing room at non-league Sutton United in the previous round strewn with discarded strappings and drinks bottles. That contrast emphasised the different worlds usually inhabited by those from non-league and Premier League although, looking at the bigger picture, that is a chasm that Cowley hopes some of his contemporaries and colleagues can one day bridge. “There’s some great footballers at non-league level and hopefully some OK managers too,” Cowley notes. “We’ve seen what happened with Jamie Vardy. It shows you there is real depth in English football.”

From a distance a 5-0 scoreline seems emphatic enough and a bit of Cowley almost seemed to enjoy seeing the precision of Arsenal’s players turning on the style close up. It was an education and he is desperate to learn as much as he can as quickly as possible. But for the first segment of the game his Lincoln side delivered a higher quality and intensity of performance than some Premier League teams have managed at the Emirates this season.

The Cowley brothers, Danny and his assistant manager, Nicky, savoured the invitation to spend some time with Arsène Wenger. After the match they talked for another 90 minutes. “The fact he gave us an hour and a half of his time after the weeks he’s had says everything about the man,” Danny Cowley says. “He loves the game and he talks with such enthusiasm.” They spent most of the time firing questions at a man who has witnessed all the vagaries football can throw up in his spell managing over 2,000 games.

It was symptomatic of where Arsenal are that Wenger felt compelled to bring that statistic up in self-defence after guiding his team to a remarkable 11th FA Cup semi-final during his tenure. If Cowley was able to joke that he was looking forward to returning to some normality and becoming tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper, Wenger could only wish for the attention to be so transient.

Is an FA Cup enough? What about the top four? How much pressure is there that the semi-finals will be well stocked with big teams? The lines of questioning were laced with the loaded situation over his future. The environment was not necessarily eased by a comfortable win over Lincoln and an opportunity for his players to remember how it is to play without too much pressure and with some enjoyment. “You have to accept that nothing is good enough; you have to live with that,” Wenger says.

He tries to keep “a distance” from all the opinions, be they from pundits, former players or fans. “People brainwash you with what they think is right,” he says. “When you are a football player, even if you don’t read, they tell you what people say. The importance of the game has become bigger. You cannot escape any more. No matter where a player goes today it’s talked about. You have so many news channels. Maybe 30 years ago the guy who lost a game has one journalist who went with the players to the pub and had a beer after. And sometimes two and three, four, five or more ...”

All the noise makes for a discordant backdrop to life around the Arsenal camp. Petr Cech admitted the players had to share the responsibility and, while he was at it, expressed his dismay about the furore as Alexis Sánchez was accused of laughing during Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich. “He was as sad as I have seen him,” Cech says. “I found it very disrespectful to the player. But obviously you can take the picture and you can interpret it the way you want unfortunately. But we the players, we know exactly how he was hurting and he was as disappointed as anybody else.”

In chasing a seventh FA Cup victory Wenger wants to remain level-headed. “I would love that but at the moment we are far from it. If you look at the teams out there, it promises us a tough semi-final.”

It seemed symbolic to see a manager out on the pitch at the Emirates being revered by the supporters. Of course on this occasion it was Cowley, who took a moment after the final whistle to stroll across the pitch to acknowledge the effervescent Lincoln support. They soaked their man with adulation.

He and his brother went home to watch the game again, and once more on Sunday morning, before turning attention to their next opponents, York City. It will be their 47th match of the campaign. With a National League title to try to clinch, and an FA Trophy semi‑final to negotiate for a trip to Wembley, huge hopes and ambition still burn over the Lincoln horizon.