When Republic of Ireland and Hull defender Paul McShane trudged off the KC Stadium pitch at full-time yesterday he thought the next time he would return to it would be for an npower Championship play-off clash eight days later.
As the final whistle sounded on the Tigers' enthralling 2-2 draw with champions Cardiff, McShane and his team-mates turned their focus to Vicarage Road where victory for Watford against Leeds would have relegated Hull to third.
"I thought we were done," said McShane.
"I was getting my head around the play-offs because somebody on the pitch said it was 2-1 to Watford so I was devestated, but just trying to get my head around it."
There was plenty for McShane to comprehend.
Four second-half goals - one of which he scored - a red card, two penalties and a premature pitch invasion had taken McShane on an "emotional rollercoaster".
A first-half injury to Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond meant their game was running 16 minutes behind Hull's clash so Steve Bruce's squad were huddled around televisions, slumped against corridor walls or simply trying to avoid it all in the toilets during an anxious wait.
One Hornets strike would have sent them up to the Barclays Premier League at Hull's expense, yet it was Ross McCormack who would get the final goal to give Leeds a 2-1 win and prompt jubilant scenes back in East Yorkshire.
McShane, who compared the astonishing closing stages to Manchester City's last-gasp title win a year ago, added: "I just tried to keep level-headed because I didn't want to start celebrating then we're in the play-offs.
"Watching the game in the tunnel was surreal, really like a bit of a dreamland.
"The game finished 2-1 to Leeds and people went wild. The crowd out on the pitch there...amazing stuff."
It completed a remarkable first year in the job for Bruce, who believes putting a third promotion on his CV has restored a reputation which was tarnished somewhat at Sunderland following his sacking 18 months ago.
Reflecting on his tenure with the Black Cats, Bruce said: "I took over a team that had just, on the last day of the season, avoided relegation. We finished 13th first year, 10th second year, balanced the books and I got the sack after 11 games so of course it hurt me because I thought I'd get a chance and it didn't happen.
"So then you dust yourself down. I worked hard at Birmingham and Wigan to get the chance at a club like Sunderland and it's taken away from you so you have to rebuild yourself.
"It's tough because I honestly thought I'd get the chance. It wasn't to be so then you have to dust yourself down and get ready to have the challenge again.
"Hopefully I've proved to a few people that I'm not bad at what I do."
Bruce, though, acknowledges the top flight will present a huge challenge for his youthful squad after they defied pre-season predictions to achieve promotion.
Hull have been well backed financially by Egyptian-born chairman Assem Allam, although Bruce insists he must be frugal with his summer spending.
However, when the drama has died down and the achievement really sinks in, Bruce intends to start plotting for that new campaign in an exotic location.
He said: "In two days, three days' time I'll be thinking 'Right, which way's the way forward now?'.
"So, I'm going to try and relax and enjoy it and put this horrible body of mine on a far away beach and see how red it goes!"
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay will now also mull over his plans for the Premier League and he anticipates both his side and Hull have a fighting chance of staving off an immediate return to the second tier.
"Knowing Steve the little I do I don't see any team he's got not being competitive and anybody who knows me from my time at Watford, or in my two years at Cardiff; they play against a competitive team," he said.
"So you're going to have two teams who are going to absolutely give their all in the Premier League.
"I think we have to, but you're going to get two teams who are going to give it everything they've got."