When John Marquis put Doncaster ahead during the first half of extra-time last Friday, there was the briefest of pauses - a distinct catching of breath - in the ceaseless wall of sound which had been urging Charlton on all evening.
It was time to face defeat. Enough was enough. The Addicks had given everything. There was no shame in losing. They'd done their best.
But the moment of doubt -and it was only a moment - passed before the Valley Roar spontaneously re-doubled. Twice as loud, twice as fierce, totally illogical, it made spines tingle and hairs stand out on necks. To borrow and bend a phrase, "c'est magnifique...mais ce n'est pas le football".
Still elated by their success, the visitors were clearly taken aback by the defiant swell of emotion, while Lee Bowyer's band of brothers instinctively tapped into its sheer, bloodyminded rejection of reality, before being swept along on its tide of irresistible momentum. Surrender was not yet an option. The glorious uncertainty of football hadn't done with us yet.
It takes very little to stir Lyle Taylor's juices and he responded immediately. Waspishly possessed of fresh energy, he wriggled free on the right and lashed over one of his patent-pending low crosses which induces panic in defences. Leaving his line, Marko Marosi prepared to deal routinely with the danger but fatally slipped. Managing only to feebly paw the ball to Darren Pratley's feet, he was helpless to intervene as the combative veteran walked the gift into a yawning net. It was obvious that the wretched keeper was tripped from behind by person or persons unknown. Looking down from the press box, I know what I saw. But I'm no grass. And neither were any of the innocents in the crowd behind his goal. There were forces at work beyond our comprehension.
With the noise reaching new crescendos, the North Stand rose further to the occasion during the penalty shoot-out which had seemed likely since Matty Blair's late goal at Keepmoat Stadium five days previously. So did Greenwich Constabulary who, with health and safety issues on their conscience, ordered the kicks to be taken at the home end. It was the least they could do for Keith Palmer.
Impeccably behaved while four Addicks and three Rovers efficiently scored from the spot, the diehards came into their own when Marquis stepped up to take Donny's fourth spotkick. Clearly targeted as a weak link in the visitors' penalty chain, a storm of personal comments, many of them impolitely querying Marquis' curious hairdo, greeted the rattled striker. Almost obediently, he shovelled a meek effort straight at Dillon Phillips before fleeing the scene - a broken man.
The tie was now in Charlton's hands but fifth taker Naby Sarr promptly dropped it. His miss left Rovers' survival down to their skipper Tommy Rowe, a spectacular long range scorer much earlier during this semi-final's bumpy ride but still disgruntled over the arbitrary choice of ends for the shoot-out. His distracted effort flew woefully wide and the suffering was over.
Until Sunday, that is, when we return to earth to confront Sunderland in a grudge final at Wembley. Mackems' manager Jack Ross will have noted how Doncaster successfully threw a disruptive spanner into Charlton's normally smooth works. Constantly in the Addicks' faces, they worked tirelessly to deny them the space they needed to stitch together the instinctive, lightning-fast pass-move-pass combinations which characterise them. And when possession was won, they were incisive and imaginative themselves, counter-attacking skilfully and with purpose. They were the better side at The Valley but their hosts, when push became shove, found a way to win - otherwise known as the hard way. Doncaster caught them on a bad day. Sunderland might not be as lucky.
With an almost fully fit squad available to him, Bowyer must solve several selection dilemmas, among them choices to be made between Dijksteel/Solly, Pearce/Sarr, Pratley/Morgan and assuming Igor Vetokele doesn't recover in time, Parker/Williams. Whoever he chooses, the fans will close ranks behind them in solidarity. Once an Addick, always an Addick, from cradle to grave. Charlton is, after all, the greatest football team the world has ever seen.