Man City bask in Premier League glory but prepare for Brighton visit
Even though it was long since clinched, one of the most goal-strewn and stylish title wins in living memory finally saw Manchester City handed the glistening Premier League trophy after an uncharacteristic 0-0 draw with Huddersfield.
But with the goalless draw played to a backdrop of beeps and screeches from a misfiring fire alarm system, failing to score at home for the first time this season in the league was just another predictable part of the celebratory afternoon for City fans. Many will have been glad to see the club still living up to their quirky reputation, even in these heady times of glamour and glitter.
City's groundstaff have three days to clear the pitch of confetti and the players have the same time to clear their heads before Brighton appear in Manchester on Wednesday. In an exhilarating season of high after high, City's season is finally coming to a close.
For Pep Guardiola, one of those individuals clearly incapable of turning himself off for a moment or two, the focus will be trained on what needs to happen next: winning the last two games and acquiring the personnel he has earmarked as special enough to enhance this already sumptuous City squad.
Brighton's visit will be a more relaxed encounter than Huddersfield for various reasons. The south coast club, expertly steered by one of English football's unsung heroes in Chris Hughton, are clear of trouble after an inaugural Premier League season that sometimes threatened to dump them straight back in the Championship. Huddersfield's point might well prove to be key as they take on Chelsea and Arsenal in their final two games.
Some will see the irony in City facing various sides fighting against relegation in their final matches of the season. It is, after all, not so long ago when this time of the year meant something different to City too. The annual nail-biting as the club either tried to avoid relegation or attempted to clinch promotion back to the top flight is these days blissfully absent.
Unrecognisable from the club that yo-yoed between the top flight and the third tier, City's serene progress towards this season's prizes has seemed an unstoppable inevitability for months. That they arrive in front of the finishing line with two domestic trophies from a season of rapidly increasing returns is proof of Guardiola's influence and excellent adaptation to what remains a very tough league to conquer.
That the international landscape remains barren for the time being may be giving one or two people in Abu Dhabi sleepless nights. City's third league title in seven years remains the strongest possible proof that the club has hoisted itself ahead of the runners and riders for the domestic game's major prizes, however.
There can be few regrets from such a stunning season's work, but Guardiola being Guardiola, he will no doubt harbour one or two despite City's overwhelming achievement. With the Premier League points and goals records still within reach, the Catalan will almost certainly be training his mind on what is still to be done before the curtains finally close on this most thrilling of seasons.
Despite this, there will be thoughts of what might have been had the fates not conspired to keep the ball out of the Wigan goal in the FA Cup and had Jurgen Klopp not maintained his hoodoo over Guardiola both domestically and in Europe. The failure to get past Liverpool at the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League in a season when all the customary heavyweights were suffering from diminishing returns will hurt for some time yet.
City are desperate to stamp the kind of authority they have held over their Premier League rivals all season onto their continental opponents too, but will have to wait another season to make amends for the last two exits, both of which occurred too early (quarterfinals) against opposition City were expected to beat (Monaco and Liverpool).
Individually there will perhaps be regrets that injury robbed Benjamin Mendy of all but a fleeting appearance on the football pitches of England and that Mohamed Salah's extraordinary season at Anfield deprived Kevin De Bruyne of deserved personal accolades for the apparently untouchable heights he reached, particularly either side of Christmas, as City's major provider of chances.
These will seem small beer to many, but to Guardiola they already represent areas where the club must improve next season. It will be a tough ask to better their league performance, but perhaps it will be in the knockout tournaments -- and one in particular -- where City fans will see the biggest change next season. But all that is for another time, as the champions of England bask in the golden sunlight of a quite magnificent season.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.