The Rugby World Cup final success of 2003 – that England vintage of Martin Johnson and Jonny Wilkinson – felt like the mountain top.
The final of four years later resembled one last defiant stand from those old warriors.
The Rugby World Cup final of 2019 needs to be base camp for this current England team.
That they lost the game in Yokohama, soundly beaten by a powerful and clinical South Africa, helps that cause.
There will be no fanfare to greet them on their return, no sense of purpose fulfilled, only one of what might have been, how close they came and what marginal gains remain to reach the very top.
England had an excellent tournament in Japan, one that ultimately ended in failure, but one that can be the start of something, not the end of it.
With a squad that boasts an average age of just over 27, they have a strong platform on which to build.
They have the bitter pill of Saturday to steel them, the confidence that the dethroning of the All Blacks seven days earlier will give them, and the knowledge that they remain the strongest resourced union behind them.
With or without Eddie Jones at the helm they have the right set up at coaching level, above them in the Rugby Football Union, and in the playing staff, to remain at the top of the game.
But let us hope Jones continues. The lack of a Plan B against the Springboks aside, everything else about how Jones prepared England for the tournament – in the closing days and the four years previously – screamed perfection.
England may not be at the mountain top yet, but Jones is still the man to get them there.