To a cacophony of cheers - and, dare grown men and women admit it, one or two rolling tears - Duncan Ferguson pulled on the Everton No.9 shirt for one final time on Sunday.
It may have only been a six-minute run-out but it didn't matter. It was what 34,718 had packed into Goodison Park to see.
There was to be no fairytale goal in front of the Gwladys - neither was there for the returning Wayne Rooney - but after efforts either side of the break from Gerard and Nahuel, the Scot whom the masses had come to celebrate did at least play a part in the move that lead to Everton's late consolation.
Winning a header just inside the Toffees' half, Ferguson not only drew a reaction that might otherwise have greeted a goal in a cup final, but got his side on the attack. It resulted in a headed chance for one of his former colleagues, Leon Osman, from which the Blues won a corner.
As the ball drifted in the direction of the Gwladys Street box, Ferguson - echoing a sight seen so many times on the famous turf beneath his feet - was loitering. As it was, it was substitute Tyias Browning who got there first to guide home a header of which his first-team coach and former Under-18s mentor would surely have been proud.
The adoration for Ferguson was clear from the moment he first darted down the touchline to warm up early in the first half. As he tried to stretch his legs, it was his arms getting the greater work-out as punched his chest and saluted all four stands of the grateful ground. All emotions were clearly mutual.
Apart from the chance to say thank you, Sunday's match was a last chance for Everton boss Roberto Martinez to run the rule over his players before next weekend's Premier League opener against Watford. His first XI was strong.
From those fit, Ross Barkley, Steven Naismith - both among the substitutes - and last season's top scorer Romelu Lukaku - rested following his early substitution at Dundee in midweek - were the only regular faces missing.
But after a subdued opening 38 minutes, it was Villarreal's Leo Baptistao who flicked the ball on for strike partner Gerard to guide past Tim Howard and put the visitors in front.
After Naismith replaced the limping Kevin Mirallas on 39 minutes, the Blues made another switch at the break with Arouna Kone making way for Barkley.
However, as the game hit the hour-mark, Villarreal went two in front when 18-year-old Nahuel managed to hold off Seamus Coleman before steering a shot low into the net.
Soon after, Howard did brilliantly to deny Gerard his second of the afternoon, the American standing tall to deny the striker after he had raced through on goal.
And it meant the Blues were still in touch when Rooney stepped on to the pitch to huge applause with 15 minutes to go.
Seconds later, Howard produced an even better stop to this time keep out Alejo and, when Everton broke, Rooney found himself with 35 yards of clean air and the Gwladys Street goal in his sights.
The clattering of seats rippled around Goodison as together the four stands rose. Sadly, the referee's assistant hadn't read this particular part of the script and raised a moment-deflating flag.
Not to be deterred, Rooney flashed a long-range effort marginally wide of the target minutes later, before Martinez gifted Ferguson his moment.
The noise was electric and must surely have been audible for miles around. It was a sight to make the hairs stand on the neck of even the toughest character.
"You are what I live for," Ferguson said in an emotional full-time whistle address. "It's been an incredible 20 years."
Tomorrow he'll return to work at Finch Farm. There are more chapters yet to be written.