How depressing to think that there are people who exist, people who matter and hold influence over the way football is run, who believe that the FA Cup is insignificant. These are the kind of grey, faceless people you can find in the boardroom at Newcastle, who were busy pushing the line last week that trying to win a cup is too big a risk to take when it can lead to relegation – the horror – and that their supporters should think about the all-important bottom line instead. Romance is standing still, finishing 10th year after year, never dreaming, always choosing the pragmatic option.

Although supporters are not stupid enough to be that easily brainwashed by the corporate-speak, it is utterly soul destroying. As Danny Blanchflower said all those years ago, the game is about glory – and there is not a Wigan Athletic supporter who would have swapped their remarkable victory over Manchester City in last year's final for Premier League safety. Those are the days you never forget, and they do not come around very often for fans of some clubs.

Hull City, for example. When you have waited 110 years for your first FA Cup final, and never had a sniff of success before, it simply makes you determined to enjoy the occasion, whatever the outcome. Although their wonderful journey ended in the ultimate heartbreak – and they will take a while to recover from the disappointment of relinquishing that 2-0 lead – their part in this gripping final should never be forgotten.

Their players were broken at the final whistle – some lay dejected on the Wembley turf, others wandered around with a faraway look in their eyes, unsure of where to go – but, when the dust has settled, they will come to appreciate their achievement this season. Not many promoted sides stay up and reach a cup final.

Steve Bruce deserves immense credit for the imagination he has displayed this season. Hull were never overawed by the occasion and they will always have the memory of those preposterous opening eight minutes, when they gave Arsenal an almighty scare.

Hull failed to score in either of their league defeats by Arsenal this season and were overwhelming underdogs, but that lack of expectation, the chance to play with freedom and adventure, suited them. Arsenal's technical ability far outstripped Hull's, yet that was irrelevant during the breathless early stages.

Hull took the game to Arsenal from the first whistle and here was evidence of Bruce's newly developed tactical flexibility. Any preconceived notions that Hull would sit back and let Arsenal dictate the game were busted during that incredible opening spell, when goals from James Chester and Curtis Davies gave them a lead to protect.

It was the quirkiness of Hull's system that unnerved Arsenal. Instead of picking two strikers, Bruce left Matty Fryatt on his own in attack and selected five defenders – but this was not a case of parking the bus. The wing-backs, Ahmed Elmohamady and Liam Rosenior, were resourceful in their efforts to provide width, while a midfield diamond allowed Hull to counteract Arsenal's individual brilliance, movement and one-touch triangles.

Tom Huddlestone, booed by the Arsenal fans because of his Tottenham Hotspur past, was an effective shield at the base of the diamond, David Meyler and Jake Livermore buzzed with energy and purpose, and the diminutive Stephen Quinn was a constant source of danger in his free role behind Fryatt.

It was Quinn's corner that led to Chester scoring after four minutes and, five minutes later, he was twisting and turning on the left before sending in a cross that ended with Davies finishing from close range.

Arsenal's worst fears were being played out and soon Kieran Gibbs was clearing an Alex Bruce header off the line. That reprieve jolted Arsenal into life and, shortly after Gibbs's game-changing clearance, Santi Cazorla pulled a goal back with a free-kick from 25 yards out. The ball flew into the top corner, but the sight of Allan McGregor kicking a post in frustration was proof that Hull's goalkeeper felt he should have saved it. Although McGregor got fingertips to the ball, he dived too late to make a difference.

Cazorla's goal altered the mood inside Wembley and, although Arsenal were rarely at their free-flowing best, Hull had too long to hang on.

The warning signs were there. They dropped too deep, retreating into defensive mode as their threat on the break diminished, and Laurent Koscielny's equaliser – with 20 minutes to go – had been coming, even though the corner from which the Arsenal defender scored should not have been awarded.

Losing Alex Bruce because of an injury was unfortunate and Hull's three centre-backs struggled to deal with the sheer nuisance value of Yaya Sanogo once he was introduced alongside Olivier Giroud.

Hull were dead on their feet and praying for penalties, but there was no coming back from Aaron Ramsey's winner in the second half of extra time. There were tears in their end and they will agonise over what might have been for weeks. What if Alex Bruce's header had beaten Gibbs? What if McGregor had saved Cazorla's free-kick? What if Sone Aluko's shot had drifted in near the end? What if …?

But Hull made a city proud and no one can ever take that away from them. Defeat stings, but they have come a long way since the days when the threat of extinction loomed large.

Remember this final the next time someone says that the FA Cup does not matter.