(CNN)As Diego Simeone jogged towards the Old Trafford tunnel, the Argentine did well to dodge a number of bottles and cups that were thrown his way by furious Manchester United fans.
Simeone's Atlético Madrid had just ended United's last hope of winning any silverware this season in the only way a Simeone team knows how.
Cholismo, the sacred art of defensive nous and intense work ethic, had helped Atlético secure a 1-0 win and passage through to the Champions League quarterfinals and left United supporters staring at a fifth straight season without a trophy.
However, once their rage with Simeone and his team subsides, those United fans will likely realize their real anger is not with an Argentine coach and his divisive tactics, but rather with their own club.
"It's difficult to put into words how we feel now at the moment," goalkeeper David De Gea said after the match. "We did not do enough in both games to win it. It's a very disappointing day for us.
"We are out of one of the most important competitions so we are very sad. Of course, it's not good enough. It's hard for the club, for us and the fans. It's really hard. There are too many years without any trophies, even without fighting for trophies.
"This is where we are at the moment. It's a difficult situation. We have to keep fighting. I feel very sad. But we were not good enough."
After Tuesday's defeat, interim United head coach Ralf Rangnick said "some curious refereeing decisions" were partly to blame for his team's demise.
In truth, United was, as De Gea succinctly put it, just not good enough. Not at Old Trafford nor at the Wanda Metropolitano, where three weeks ago it looked as though the team had earned a valuable 1-1 draw.
The reality is this team hasn't been good enough for several years now and the club finds itself in a perpetual state of failed rebuilding; waiting for another unsuccessful season to end before trying to remedy that lack of success with high-profile summer transfer signings or a new manager.
Since 2012, United's net spend is €1.075 billion ($1.18 billion). The club has paid €1.545 billion ($1.7 billion) in transfers while receiving €470 million ($516 million) in player sales, according to study published by Switzerland-based independent research group CIES Football Observatory.
The squad United has built is unquestionably a talented one but has lacked an identity since Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013.
For too long now, the team has relied on moments of individual brilliance to dig it out of holes -- see Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick against Tottenham on Saturday -- and when that doesn't come, the attack simply grinds to a halt.