Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich. Only three teams have won the European Cup or Champions League three times in a row. Only one of them has done it twice.
Bob Paisley's Liverpool, Helenio Herrera's Inter, Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan – great teams have tried and failed to win more than two on the bounce. Bayern were the last to do it, 42 years ago. Zinedine Zidane managed it in 28 months.
Whatever their limitations, however poor their domestic campaign has been, there can no longer be any doubt: Zidane's team will go down in history as Champions League legends. They are, as Sergio Ramos said even before kick-off, "vintage". Fortune favours the great.
There was so much doubt about their credentials this time, so much belief in Jurgen Klopp's undaunted, free-flowing Liverpool, one of the only other clubs to come close to Madrid's European record. It seemed that way from kick-off in Kiev, too: the Reds were brilliantly organised, pressing astutely, throwing Madrid off their swagger.
After those scares against Juventus and Bayern Munich, Zidane's side looked like they would at last be exposed. We should all know better.
Misfortune struck Liverpool 30 minutes in. Mohamed Salah, heir apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo and his Ballon d'Or, was forced off in tears with a shoulder injury, having tumbled to ground with Sergio Ramos, the man made for lifting trophies in this white shirt.
It left Liverpool looking uncertain, wary, and Madrid sensed it. The passing became crisper, the chances appeared, Karim Benzema denied a goal by the offside flag. Even the loss of Dani Carvajal ironically gave them a boost, with the full-back having looked every bit a player to have missed five of the last six games before he limped his disconsolate way down the tunnel.
Then Lady Luck returned. Loris Karius, whose improved form in 2018 has been a great success story of Liverpool's season, collected a simple loose ball and threw it straight against Benzema's foot. It was an error that seemed to perplex even the Madrid players, who were slow to catch up to celebrate with their team-mate, the much-maligned forward who produced arguably his best performance of 2017-18.
There was still room for another defensive lapse, a failure to clear a set-piece that gifted Sadio Mane an equaliser, a reminder of that fragility that almost let Juventus back into the quarter-final. Madrid survived that tie thanks largely to the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo; this time, it was Gareth Bale.
Just 122 seconds after coming off the bench, he scored the best goal this showpiece has ever seen. It was jaw-dropping, exquisite brilliance. That's the other side of this era-defining team: they make their own luck, too. When Karius flapped in another Bale effort to put the trophy out of Liverpool's reach, it felt like destiny was rewarding the Wales star for even attempting such a bicycle kick.
Zidane has now won nine trophies since taking over in January 2016. He has his shortcomings, as he admitted this week – "I'm not the best coach, and I will always say that. I am not the best coach tactically" – but, when the success looks like this, tactics be damned.
They survived throwing away a 3-0 lead against Juve, being dominated by Bayern, being unsettled by Liverpool. Special goals and slices of luck carried them all the way to glory again. The undisputed kings of Europe, it seems, have a divine right to rule.
|Strickland apologises for ´stupid decision´ that led to broken hand|
|Five-time Open Championship winner Thomson dies aged 88|
|´Positive´ Pogba not bitter towards media, says Varane|
|Portugal privileged to have ´humble´ Ronaldo, says Pepe|
|Strickland breaks hand punching door after blown save, out for up to eight weeks|
|He will have received good money – Costa delighted by Griezmann extension|
|Kane: Pochettino sent me love hearts after World Cup heroics|
|Nationals place Adams on 10-day DL with broken finger|
|Dybala: I can play alongside Messi|
|Lewandowski: Poland didn´t take enough risks|
|England´s Kane aiming to reach Ronaldo, Messi levels with World Cup performances|
|Kicker given three-year match-fixing ban|
|England confirm Alli thigh injury|
|Federer through, Zverev out in Halle|
|Back on the map and earning letters from ladies, Tabarez embraces Uruguay´s heritage|
|Rampant England rout Australia in record-breaking display|
|Pulisic in right place at Dortmund, says Arena|
|Wilshere confirms Arsenal exit|
|NASCAR at Sonoma: TV schedule, standings, qualifying drivers for Toyota/Save Mart 350|
|Muguruza and Kvitova cruise through in Birmingham|
|Leno among top 10 most expensive goalkeepers|
|Pained Salah unable to halt Russia´s unlikely march|
|Kyrgios downs ´legend´ Murray as Dimitrov and Djokovic progress|
|Neymar pain normal – Coutinho unconcerned by ankle issue|
|Russia 3 Egypt 1: Salah strikes but hosts right on course for last 16|
|We must make Ronaldo less exceptional, says Morocco boss Renard|
|Chandimal handed one-Test ball tampering ban, faces further ICC charge|
|Arsenal sign goalkeeper Leno from Leverkusen|
|Mexico style in Germany win surprised Arena|
|Monaco complete €20m move for Lyon teenager Geubbels|
|Saudi team don´t know cause of aeroplane fire, Pizzi reveals|
|Champions League qualifying draw: Celtic travel to Armenia, Ajax face Sturm Graz|
|I´ve never seen a player win on his own – Santos shrugs off Ronaldo dependence|
|Murray impresses despite narrow defeat on return|
|West Ham land club-record Diop signing|
|El Hadji Diouf hails ´perfect start´ for Senegal|
|Cisse and Senegal give cause for African celebration|
|Carvajal ready to face Iran - Hierro|
|Japan´s World Cup victory over Colombia sparks celebrations on the streets of Tokyo|
|Poland 1 Senegal 2: Good fortune and bad errors hand Africans Group H win|
|England shatter ODI world record with total of 481 against Australia|
|Best yet to come from England hero Kane, says Rashford|
|Salah starts for Egypt against Russia|
|De Jong expects to stay at Ajax|
|Barcelona angered by Pique´s involvement in Griezmann saga|
|Federer begins Halle defence with comfortable Bedene win|
|Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start|
|Brazil´s Neymar felt pain in his ankle, CBF confirms|
|Griezmann understands Atletico fans´ nerves over Barcelona speculation|
|Queiroz salutes Hierro for uniting Spain|
|Stump from Scotland´s defeat of England auctioned for charity|
|Red Bull will not have works team label, confirm Honda|
|Neymar hobbles out of Brazil World Cup training|
|Ronaldo´s revelry, Messi´s miss and Sanchez´s shocker - Russia 2018, World Cup of the penalty|
|Brazil ask FIFA to explain VAR decisions against Switzerland|
|Colombia 1 Japan 2: Sanchez red spoils Pekerman´s plans|
|Argentina v Croatia: Mercado wants an end to ´Messidependencia´|
|Hoffenheim director suggests €50m bid could land Kramaric|
|England will emerge as a ´champion team´, insists Jones|
|Ryder Cup teams shaping up great, says Strange|
|We cannot replace Iniesta – Abidal|
|Colombia´s Sanchez sees second-quickest World Cup red card|
|France v Peru: Varane and Les Bleus calm after unconvincing start|
|Semenya challenges IAAF hyperandrogenism rule with CAS|
|No Germany line-up changes needed, says Neuer|
|James absent from Colombia line-up|
|Alli to have scan on thigh knock after England win|
|Mooy not using World Cup to facilitate transfer from Huddersfield|
|Billy Vunipola a big loss for England, says Vermeulen|
|´Incredible´ Firmino works like a defender, says Mane|