(CNN)Huddled on the halfway line, steeling themselves for yet more hurt, the England players bore the same expressions as the estimated 23.8 million watching on at home.
World Cup 2018: The agony and ecstasy of England's shootout win
It was happening again, just as it did in 1990, 1998 and 2006.
No nation has lost more penalty shootouts in the history of the World Cup.
Except this time it was different.
This time, as England midfielder Eric Dier found the net from 12 yards, the curse was broken and the burden was lifted.
With one kick of the ball in the Russian capital, a country paralyzed by fear finally exorcised its demons.
Cue pandemonium at the Spartak Stadium and on the streets of England some 1,500 miles away. Catharsis.
Nobody appreciated England's victory over Colombia more keenly than the stars of the last generation -- players who had won it all for their clubs but wilted under the weight of expectation for their country.
"Seriously now I know what it feels like," said David Beckham, who missed two penalties for England at Euro 2004. "Wow."