Borussia Dortmund may have missed out on a Champions League semi-finals berth following an agonising 3-2 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid but the German club can regard themselves as winners on many levels.
Their spirit and attacking prowess were again on full display as they embarrassed the Spaniards with a dazzling performance to win 2-0 at home on Tuesday but they were unable to balance out the deficit of their first leg loss in Madrid.
"That was too much suffering and I think it was deserved," said Real keeper Iker Casillas. "But from time to time it's good to have this kind of wake up call that reminds us it's not always easy, and especially not in the Champions League.
"It is better that it happened in this game than in the decisive matches to come."
After a slow start, last season's runners-up put on a sensational attacking performance that left Real chasing shadows and praying for the final whistle to be blown as soon as possible.
For a team that has lost key players to major European rivals every year, Dortmund's resilience is also remarkable.
The 1997 Champions League winners, who have tightened their grip on second place in the Bundesliga, will no doubt give it another shot next season.
At the end of this campaign, leading striker Robert Lewandowski will be moving to Bayern Munich to join former Dortmund team mate Mario Goetze but few believe that the Poland forward cannot be replaced.
They managed to find able deputies when Shinji Kagawa left for Manchester United, when Nuri Sahin joined Real and when Goetze angered fans to sign with rivals Bayern.
"This was an evening that will not be forgotten quickly," said defender Mats Hummels, another player on the wish-list of several top clubs.
"We won but were eliminated so it was only a great evening. But we showed everyone the internal strength we have as a team."