SO THERE we have it. The Battle of Britain has come to an end with the expected outcome if not the expected result.
What we expected is ultimately what we got. Liverpool - the multi-millionaires, the aristocrats, the team that has won this competition three times - are into the next round. Hearts - the plucky upstarts who never had a chance - return to Scotland out of the Europa League. (NB: You'll note that when speaking about the two clubs one has to constantly refer to the difference in spend).
There is more to it.
There is no doubt that Hearts surprised many. Perhaps even themselves. Very few of their fans gave them a chance against Liverpool. Many were expecting a repeat of Hearts vs Spurs last year when the Jam Tarts were steamrollered and utterly outclassed.
I really do not wish to take anything away from Hearts. They are a team I have a great fondness of and affection for. I almost, this year, took out a season ticket. At points last Thursday night I found myself conflicted - not for very long, mind, but conflicted nonetheless. They are probably the team I have seen most often live. They did play to the best of their abilities over the course of the two legs. That is something that we should always applaud.
What has irked me, and what always irks me, is the coverage in Scotland. Many of the match reports we are seeing could have been dialled in before the game and would have been valid regardless of the result. We've read them before. Hundreds of times.
What I mean by this is that whenever a Scottish team comes up against a supposedly bigger rival we get the same guff. Before the game we get analyses of the squads. You know the sort of thing: ''You could buy Gorgie and Dalry for the cost of Jordan Henderson'' or ''The entire Hearts squad would be better off jacking in football and becoming Steven Gerrard's butlers''. We get, in the Hearts programme, a whole page dedicated to Liverpool's trophies over the years. We build them up and up. We talk our boys down. We expect nothing. And because we expect nothing, anything is a win.
The fans, media and public decide the team is going to lose before the game starts. That is a given. Then, when the team loses but shows some fight (This fight can be an excellent performance like Hearts' or something much worse) we begin to glorify that failure.
In this world, such Scottish teams are always unlucky and plucky. They can always return home with their heads held high. They were bloodied but not unbowed. They gave a good account of themselves. They can be proud. They did the SPL proud. They did themselves proud. Everyone is ever so proud. Of losing.
I've never seen another country talk about glorious failure like Scotland talks about it. In fact, I think we've even moved beyond that. Not only are all failures by Scots glorious but we increasingly seem to actively revel in that glorious failure. I think many Scots enjoy it. I've often wondered if some prefer glorious failure to easy winning. A cruel tongue would say it is because winning is a rarity, we should at least make our failure glorious. Well, I suppose but that is no way to live life.
To me, it holds us back - as a sporting people and as a nation. It infantilises us. It stops us analysing performances. It is a curious, and wrong-headed view, of sport.
And this leads to another problem! There are times - very occasional times, mind - when failure can be glorious. When a team, against all odds, almost pulls off the unthinkable. That is what Hearts almost did this past week. The problem is that we are so used to this rhetoric - nay, this doggerel - that it has become utterly meaningless.
Hearts' legitimate achievements are placed in a grand tapestry of glorious failure. But most of that failure was never glorious. We just say it is because it makes us feel better. We live in a strangely self-reinforcing world: All Scottish failure is glorious because failure could only ever be glorious.
The increasingly controversial historian Niall Ferguson argues that the cringe doesn't exist at all but rather there is a Scottish swagger. ''There is no Scottish cringe'' he says ''There is only the Scottish swagger inspired by the authentically Calvinist certainty that we and only we are the Elect". And the mad old loon might be right - what could be more arrogant, more cocksure than claiming that even when we lose we are glorious. That we can take home the moral victory regardless of result. That we don't analyse our flaws because we did ourselves proud. That the other team should have won by more and therefore it is they who should take a long-hard look at themselves.
There is something in that. It was a very Scottish response, last week, to say that Liverpool had been lucky because of an own goal. Perhaps. We overlooked, entirely, that Martin Kelly had whipped in a delicious ball in that corridor of twitchy-bottoms between the six yard box and the goalkeeper and that the whole point of such a ball is that someone - anyone - gets a touch. But the mindset that says ''Liverpool were lucky because we had to score for them'' doesn't need to analyse why Martin Kelly was in acres of space in the first place. It is equally part of the glorious failure syndrome - the cringe - that says ''Liverpool should have won easily''. The doctrine of a ''win is a win'' goes out of the window.
None of this is to take anything away from Hearts. They played very well (not as well as many are making out but well nonetheless and better than most of us expected). My problem isn't the boys in maroon. It is those of us who weren't cheering them on tonight. It is the rest of us who insist that when a Scottish team loses that we celebrate it, that the loss is glorious, that we - furtively - enjoy it. Let's stop that. Let's stop glorying in failure.. If we can do that, we might actually start winning things more often.
Rob Marrs is a football blogger who usually blogs at http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com