It has taken more than 100 years but, finally, Swansea City know what it is like to reach a major final. They will play Bradford City at Wembley on 24 February while Chelsea, and Eden Hazard in particular, will reflect on another ignominious chapter in the story of a difficult season.
Two-nil down after the game at Stamford Bridge, it was remarkable in the first place that Rafael Benítez's side played with such conservatism, not managing a shot on target until the 73rd minute and barely offering any sense they were in the mood to pull off a dramatic feat of escapology.
Yet their prosaic performance will be swiftly forgotten in comparison with what happened in the 78th minute when Hazard went to get the ball from a ballboy close to the corner flag and ended up being sent off for violent conduct. Put it this way: it will be some story for the schoolyard.
Hazard, in fairness, was entitled to want the ball back quickly while the ballboy seemed hell-bent on delaying him – but what followed was nothing short of extraordinary, culminating in post-match apologies, with South Wales Police getting involved and Benítez leaving his post-match press conference by spreading the blame, saying his player would be disciplined but adding, pointedly, that "society has a big problem".
At one point the boy, from his starting position sitting by the pitch, was lying on top of the ball, playing dead to smother it and showing no signs that he was willing to move. Hazard tried to wrestle it back, one side then the other, realised he was getting nowhere and made the mistake of delivering a short, impatient kick to release it from beneath the teenager. It worked, to a degree. The problem was it also left the boy writhing in apparent pain and clutching his midriff as various Swansea players ran over to remonstrate. Whatever the boy was playing at, regardless of whether he was exaggerating the pain, it was naive from Hazard, to say the least.
The boy, it turned out, was 17 – five years younger than Hazard – and had been employed as a ballboy for six years as a perk of being one of the directors' sons. Embarrassingly for the club, his Twitter account includes a post where he describes himself as "the king of ballboys" who was "needed for time-wasting". He also says it is going to be his last appearance. He may be right.
The pity for Swansea is that an incident this exceptional, under the glare of the cameras, with replays available from countless angles, will inevitably draw attention away from their own story. Michael Laudrup's side played with great organisation and commitment and there were jubilant scenes for a club whose previous success in knockout competitions amounts to two FA Cup semi-finals. Swansea Town, as they were known back then, lost 3-0 to Bolton Wanderers in 1926 and 2-1 to Preston North End 1964. At least Bradford have actually been to a final before, even if it was back in 1911.
"It's a small fairytale," Laudrup said. "What Bradford have done, though, is just amazing. They have beaten three Premier League sides on an incredible run. We have to try to make sure that stops now."
Between them, the two finalists can certainly share a few stories about the times when both clubs flirted with financial ruin and how, in football, the excruciating lows can make the exhilarating highs feel that little bit better. A Wembley final will also be very different from the last time they faced one another, a 2-2 draw in League One in January 2007, with a crowd of 7,347 inside Valley Parade. What a wonderful story it is that Leon Britton was in the Swansea team that day and has been on the upwards trajectory ever since. Swansea's pass-master finished this match with his head bandaged courtesy of a stray elbow from Ramires.
Chelsea needed their own heroes – but nobody raised an arm. Benítez could be forgiven for losing trust in Fernando Torres but there is still something perplexing and unsatisfactory that a team could need two goals and leave out a £50m striker. Torres was brought on directly after Hazard's red card but at that point Chelsea had pretty much waved the white flag. "You could see it was finished," as Laudrup put it afterwards.
How, possibly, could Chelsea be so feeble when the prize was a final against the 10th-placed side from League Two? Benítez's men had a lot of the ball, particularly in the first half, but their creativity was poor and their momentum never built. The urgency was never there. Demba Ba hardly distinguished himself either with the deviousness that was attached to his attempts to win an early penalty. By the end, a side that began the season in contention for seven trophies are down to two, one of which is the Europa League – a competition Roman Abramovich regards as little more than an afterthought.
Swansea will reflect that they had enough chances once they had the extra man to win both legs. In the end, it did not particularly matter. They defended with great resolution and commitment and, when the dust settles, they will cherish the memories of an odd night.