Tottenham Hotspur 5 Aston Villa 1
And the award for Eternal Optimist of the Year goes to . . . David O'Leary of Sutton Coldfield.
"I am not ruling ourselves out of a European place," the Villa manager said. "Not with six points left to play for."
There are dreams, of course, and we all have them - but reality these days takes the shape of the Barclays Premiership table.
A quick look will reveal that Villa need a miracle and, after this sorry display in North London, it is probably just as well that they will not be in the Uefa Cup next season. They are not ready for it.
O'Leary's "honest bunch of lads" consumed a lethal cocktail of bad defending and bad luck to leave themselves with little chance of a draw, never mind a victory. It did not help their cause that Tottenham, improving under Martin Jol, produced a devastating dis-play under the brilliant London sunshine.
It finished 5-1 but Tottenham could easily have doubled their tally. By the end, it was a shooting match: the Tottenham team against the Villa goalkeeper.
How different it might have been had Villa been given a penalty in the fifth minute when Mark Delaney, the Wales international defender, appeared to have been fouled by Erik Edman. How cruel that Tottenham should score almost immediately through Fr?d?ric Kanout?.
"It was a definite penalty and a double kick in the teeth for us," O'Leary said. "Whether we would have scored the penalty is a different matter but I can tell you that if we had scored, Spurs would not have gone straight down the other end and got their goal."
A fair point, but it is difficult to see how Villa could have contained Tottenham in this form. The difference between the teams was stark and Villa, for all their injury problems, looked like a team that wants the season to end quickly.
The problems had started even before the kick-off when Thomas Sorensen, their first-choice goalkeeper, complained of illness and was replaced by Stefan Postma - the same Stefan Postma who will probably leave in the summer.
After Kanout? scored in the sixth minute, running clear and beating Postma with a low shot, all hell broke loose. Ledley King scored the second in the 18th minute after an outrageous goalmouth scramble and Kanout? registered the third in the 26th minute after the Villa defenders failed to deal with a corner.
And then, on the stroke of half-time, Villa did earn a penalty. It was less clear-cut than the one they should have won earlier on but Villa deserved their fortune. Juan Pablo Angel's volley struck the hand of Michael Dawson and Villa were given a lifeline when Gareth Barry converted the kick.
For 15 minutes at the start of the second half, they assumed control. Steven Davis was putting his intelligence to good use in midfield, while Darius Vassell seemed energetic up front.
The problem was that Angel seemed out of his depth alongside Vassell and Thomas Hitzlsperger was unable to provide support for Davis in the centre.
The next goal would be crucial. If Villa scored it, a draw would be likely; if Tottenham scored it, there would only be humiliation for Villa.
In the 66th minute, Andy Reid was surprised to reach the edge of the Villa penalty area without being challenged and he took advantage, scoring with a fine shot from 20 yards. The fifth goal, from Stephen Kelly in the final minute, came from close range after he shrugged off Jlloyd Samuel.
No, this was not a day to be a Villa defender or goalkeeper. Or manager.
"For me, the fourth goal [by Reid] knocked the stuffing out of us - it was the killer," O'Leary said. "The best team won the game. We let ourselves down today but I have got a small group of players and for the second year running they have done me proud.
"They have given me everything but let themselves down because we looked very vulnerable at the back. We defended poorly from set-plays.
"Tottenham have pushed on because they have made a big investment, I came to Villa and I knew there was no much money. The frustrating part is the massive expectation. I think I have improved them on a small budget and to be in contention for a European place going into the last two weeks of the season means the players have done more than they could." This little speech was delivered after the match yesterday but it is a constant theme of O'Leary's post-match press conferences. We are beginning to get the message.
The truth is that, despite O'Leary's continuing protestations, Villa have pointedly not gone forwards this season and they are becoming a disparate collection of individuals rather than a coherent team.
Had Villa's players performed as well as their supporters did here yesterday, they might have had a chance of claiming victory, but the Premiership is no fairytale world.
This performance by the players emphasised the size of O'Leary's task and the amount of money required to create a team capable of competing in Europe.
Sometimes, the most painful lessons are the most valuable. Sometimes, the optimism of a manager can seem misplaced.