In 2004, Millwall, an average First Division team, reached the FA Cup final, where they were soundly beaten 3-0 by Manchester United, in a very one-sided game.
Feeling cheated of an end-of-season spectacle, many football fans complained that if Millwall had come up against a "big" club, such as Arsenal or Chelsea, in earlier rounds they'd never have made the final.
They'd only played lesser clubs, such as Burnley and Telford, but Millwall had their day of glory and enjoyed it.
They'd earned it: after all you can only play the teams that the luck of the draw pairs you with. Does all this sound a bit familiar to you?
It ought to, because this is exactly the situation we face every year when the A-level results are published.
Critics decry the results as evidence that the exams are getting easier, while others tell us that the students have worked hard for their results and we must not denigrate their achievements.
Like Millwall, students can only deal with what they're faced with.
The fact is, of course, that the A-level exam could only be truly termed "the gold standard" in the days when it did what it was created to do - pick out the best brains for entry to a small number of highly academic institutions. Nothing more, nothing less.
The universities themselves banded together to form examining boards, which both set the syllabuses and the exam questions, often getting junior lecturers to actually mark the papers.
The aim was only to find top brains to study at the top institutions in the country. Indeed, in those days, a quarter of candidates were failed, to keep the standard very high and fit the amount of places available at a fixed number of universities.
However, once we started tinkering with the exams, in order to make them accessible to a much wider group of pupils, the "gold standard" was in trouble.
O levels had been envisaged only as a preparation for A level, or as an entry criterion to the professions, for a small group of very bright children (about 15 per cent of all pupils).
Once O levels were replaced by GCSEs, which catered for a wide range of abilities, then A level was bound to follow.
Calling it "dumbing down" or "giving a chance to many more students" the result is the same.
GCSE offers all manner of non-academic subjects for the less intellectually able and so it follows that A level must do likewise.
Easier subjects, easier exam questions, easily manipulated coursework, modules which can be taken several times to improve a grade, re-sits and more unacademic subjects which still offer the coveted A-level certificate have devalued the gold standard to the extent that if we want to reinstate it we must start again.
This, to me, seems an impossible dream.
Having lived and taught through the years of the hysterical hatred of A levels and degrees, which were condemned by some as the obvious marks of a loathed "elitist" education system, I can't see the very bright children - pushed further and further down the pecking order in a system that believes "all must have prizes" - being given a second chance to shine.
After all, if we reinstate a highly academic exam especially for these students, what has been gained by changing the system in the first place?
As for the pie-in-the-sky idea of creating an allembracing system that caters for everybody, from the very bright to the child with special needs, it's a myth.
So be prepared for more tinkering, more title changing, and the same old failed system.
The gold standard really is dead.