Hull // At the final whistle on Saturday, the 4,000 Burnley fans in the top-right corner of the stadium rose to acclaim their team. They had just been relegated, but they went down with a win and with dignity.
Given their resources, nobody could realistically have asked for more: all season they played with discipline and energy before they ran out of steam in mid-March.
What has done for them, ultimately, was a run of six games after beating Manchester City in which they failed to win and could not even score.
“There’s a bigger picture,” coach Sean Dyche said. “I believed wholeheartedly in what we were trying to achieve and it got away from us. The mentality of the players to take games on everywhere, I’ve been proud of that.
“There’s learning and making sense of things, but no regrets. I don’t really do regrets: I look forward.
"If it goes wrong, you've got to know that you've done what you could. It's worse if you have that nagging doubt you haven't had a go."
As Burnley engaged in their bittersweet salute, Hull City’s fans, briefly, booed.
For the home team, it had been a strangely flat display. Other than two Robbie Brady free kicks that struck the bar, they barely threatened the Burnley goal.
Perhaps they were unfortunate that central defender Michael Dawson was off the pitch changing a bloodied shirt when Danny Ings scored the only goal of the game.
Ings scored after a half-cleared corner kick had bobbed about the penalty area, but this was such a lacklustre performance that it was difficult to claim that Hull had been hard done by.
They are 18th, two points behind Newcastle United and Sunderland and must play away at Tottenham Hotspur and at home to Manchester United.
Hull have never won a Premier League game in May – three draws and eight defeats – and must surely change that if they are to have any chance of staying up.
There was a grim sense of inevitability about the KC Stadium, though, and the support was just as flat as the team, with an air of resignation taking over once Burnley had scored.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing,” Hull manager Steve Bruce said.
“When you don’t perform – I’ve said all week that in big games like this you have to perform – and in all honesty in all departments we were nowhere near. Whether we were nervous or edgy or tense, we were a shadow of the team we were a week ago.
“I take responsibility. I haven’t got the best out of any of them and there’s a lot of them fell short of the level they’re capable of.”
The disillusionment was presaged by discontent in the first half as some fans chanted against the owner, Assem Allam, who has provoked controversy with his desire to change the name of the club from Hull City to Hull Tigers, and others, presumably reasoning a united front was needed at this stage, booed them.
At the end of it all, Hull’s Premier League future hangs by a thread.
“We’ve still got a chance,” a despondent Bruce said, “and we’ve got to make a fist of it.”
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