In many other sports, such as Test cricket, the pre-match coin toss carries huge importance and the potential to significantly influence the game. In football, the process is rarely considered crucial – along with shaking hands, exchanging pennants and having a photograph with the mascots. But there was something unusually powerful about Kevin Friend's coin toss in the Wembley centre circle.
These were two sides unaccustomed to this type of occasion – and, as well as coming from opposite ends of league football, Bradford and Swansea's style of play could not be more different. Phil Parkinson's side are about long balls and set pieces, Michael Laudrup's about intricate passing triangles, so both needed to make this cup final "their" type of contest. If Bradford could make it a scrappy, stop-start battle based around dead balls, they stood a chance, but if Swansea were allowed to get into their passing rhythm, they were assured of the trophy.
Therefore, both sides would have appreciated starting the game. Bradford's Gary Jones called correctly and was given choice of ends, which meant Swansea were automatically kicking off. They were immediately able to stamp their style on the final: Laudrup's side retained the ball for the first 70 seconds, with the 27-pass move allowing nine outfielders to get a touch, easing any pre-match nerves.
It is impossible to say whether a Bradford kick-off would have changed things but when starting the second half, they immediately launched a long ball towards the 6ft 4in James Hanson, and Ki Sung-yueng was forced to clear from Swansea's byline after 10 seconds. Considering Bradford struggled to get men forward throughout the game, and took 86 minutes to win a corner, how they would have appreciated that pressure in the opening moments.
The simple flip of a coin was evidently not the primary factor for Swansea's success and Bradford failed to cope throughout. Hanson and Nahki Wells did not press Swansea's centre-backs, instead dropping off and preventing easy balls being played into Leon Britton and Jonathan De Guzman.
Therefore, Laudrup's decision to play the defensive midfielder Ki as a centre-back was justified – he was given time on the ball, was positive with his distribution, and started many of Swansea's attacks.
There were two major areas of concern for Bradford. The first was between the lines, as Swansea's rotating band of three natural wingers – Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernández – drifted into the centre of the pitch, creating angles for forward passes. Michu, a prolific goalscorer despite his preference for playing as a No10, dropped deep and provided quick, one-touch passes to encourage the three runners to break beyond him. Although Bradford stayed compact when Swansea built play slowly, Dyer's opener came after the Bantams lost a rare bit of possession in the opposition half, with Jones and Nathan Doyle caught out too high up the pitch.
Swansea's other area of superiority was on the right – in the first half they repeatedly knocked balls towards Dyer's intelligent runs in behind the 19-year-old left-back, Curtis Good. That problem prompted Parkinson to withdraw Good at half-time, introducing the centre-back Andrew Davies and moving Carl McHugh to the flank.
But the problem continued and Swansea's third goal was a perfect demonstration of what they did excellently throughout – Dyer provided a driving run and a fine finish, Routledge finding space between the lines to play the return pass, and Michu's link-up play was so suave and nonchalant that he provided dummies for both parts of his team-mates' one-two.