West Germany were on top of the world in 1976.
The European champions and World Cup winners had good reason to assume that they were the best team on the planet and there were no signs that anything was about to change.
As holders of the Henri Delaunay trophy, they were spared the trouble of having to prove themselves until the quarter-final stages.
Of the British nations, only Wales made it that far and they took on Yugoslavia home and away for the right to travel to the all-important semis.
Wales were desperately unlucky in the tie though and when they needed to overhaul a two-goal deficit in the second match in Cardiff, they missed a penalty, had a man sent off and could only draw 1-1.
England were eliminated at the group stage by Czechoslovakia and the Czechs would make more than a few eyes stare in wonder come the tournament's climax in June.
They knocked out the Soviet Union to join designated hosts Yugoslavia in the semi-finals, along with the all-conquering Germans and Holland - the Total Football kings who were so unlucky to miss out on ultimate glory at the World Cup of 1974.
Gerd Muller, who scored both goals in that final, was no longer on the scene though and the Dutch, led by the mercurial Johan Cruyff for what was to be his last major event in a Holland shirt, were tipped to get a shot at revenge in the European Championship final.
Czechoslovakia had other ideas and they stunned Holland in their semi-final. The match was played in a torrent of rain and each side had a man sent off in normal time as things got overly physical.
ENGLAND IN EUROPE: 1976
Eliminated in group stage
Qualifying Group 1:
Eng 3-0 Czech,
Eng 0-0 Portugal,
Eng 5-0 Cyprus,
Cyprus 0-1 Eng,
Czech 2-1 Eng,
Portugal 1-1 Eng
It went into extra-time at 1-1 and when the Czechs took a controversial lead with Zdenek Nehoda's header, Holland reacted furiously.
They thought an earlier foul on Cruyff should have been called and Wim van Hanegem was sent off for his protestations. Czechoslovakia eventually won 3-1 but if their inclusion in the final was a shock, no-one was surprised to see West Germany there.
The Germans had a rough ride against Yugoslavia though and they trailed 2-0 at half-time.
A famous name but not a famous player came to their rescue in the form of Dieter Muller. While being no blood relation to Gerd, he was certainly able to capture his spirit on the pitch.
His 82nd minute equaliser forced extra-time and he went on to complete a hat-trick in a famous 4-2 victory... on his international debut. Some introduction.
The final threw up yet more drama, with Czechoslovakia repeating Yugoslavia's feat of taking a two-goal lead against West Germany as Jan Svehlík and Karol Dobias did the damage.
Dieter Muller got one back before half-time, but they had to wait until the last minute of the 90 to equalise when the outstanding Czech goalkeeper Ivo Viktor failed to stop Bernd Holzenbein heading in.
Extra-time failed to produce a winner, so penalties were necessary and Uli Hoeness was the first to crack when he skied his spot-kick over the bar.
Czechoslovakia won the final with the next penalty as Antonin Panenka kept his cool with the most impudent of chips and West Germany's reign was over - for four years at least.
1976 European Championship results (Held in Yugoslavia)
Holland 1-3 Czech'vakia (AET)
W Germany 4-2 Yugoslavia (AET)
Third place play-off
Holland 3-2 Yugoslavia (AET)
Czech'vakia 2-2 W Germany (AET)
(Czech'vakia won 5-3 on penalties)