BBC News Online in Lisbon
With long faces and a few eyes reddened from crying, England fans began thinking about the trip home.
One fan tries to hold her nerve during the penalty shoot-out
Before kick-off, it had been difficult to find anyone who was not confidently predicting victory over Portugal and an extended stay at Euro 2004.
By the end of the heart-stopping match they were "gutted", angry that their team had once again been knocked out of a major tournament on penalties.
If there was any consolation to be found, it was in the fact that they had lost to their hosts, whose raucous celebrations hundreds were to gatecrash for a final night out.
A few days in the sun before a semi-final had seemed increasingly likely when Owen buoyed supporters with his third-minute goal.
For once the England fans watching the game at Uefa's big screen in Lisbon city centre were outnumbered by the opposition, but the 1-0 lead ensured it was still them making all the noise.
It wasn't until the 83rd minute that the Portuguese were shaken back to life, Postiga's header reminding them that it was their tournament.
Through extra time the din of Portuguese chants and whistles drowned out any England fans still bothering to sing their own tunes.
And although the tension of the penalty shoot-out all but silenced the 8,000-strong crowd, the Portuguese cannot have been as nervous as their guests.
"When it came to penalties I knew we were going to lose - we always do," said Lindsey Guy, from Peterborough.
There were plenty of people ready to agree.
Others suggested England were the weaker team anyway and had deserved to lose.
"To be honest I don't think we deserved to go through - after Owen scored we just sat back," said Martin Doody, from Birmingham.
Despite the heartbreak, at least one England fan found consolation in the Portuguese victory.
"Luckily I'm half Portuguese and can now switch sides!" said Samantha Alves, who was wearing an England flag and had tears in her eyes.
While others could not accept that England could lose to anyone they were at least able to find solace in the fact their opponents weren't rubbing it in.
Portuguese fans remained exuberantly boisterous but did not crow about their success.
A great trip, regardless of the match result
Many came over to the England fans to shake their hands.
"The Portuguese have been wonderful hosts and the atmosphere around the games has been terrific.
"If it had to be anyone, I'm glad it was to them," said 24-year-old David Wheatley, from York.
It was a sentiment that drove many England fans to drown their sorrows by joining the Portuguese as they had a few celebratory beers in central Lisbon.
Few would argue that they have had anything other than a great trip even if it has come to an early end.
Into the early hours the party continued across the capital with dancing the streets and outside bars.
There will be more than a few people with hangovers in the morning.