The sight of Passarella being presented with the World Cup by Jorge Videla,
head of the military junta which ruled Argentina at that time,
was an appropriate note on which to end a game
that had always been exciting but never pleasing,
and indeed the tournament, which had always been interesting but never satisfying.
So Argentina were crowned World Champions, and the party began in the streets of Buenos Aires,
but few outside the country celebrated with them.
Would they have won the World Cup had it not been held in their own country?
Some commentators have asserted they wouldn't have got past Hungary, France and Italy
in the first phase, let alone overcome Holland, had the competition been held in Europe,
or refereed with a bit more steadfastness.
The Germans of 1974, by contrast, had enjoyed home advantage, exploited it even,
but had stopped short of abusing it.
They may not have been loved, but they were respected.
Holland may have deserved to win in 1974, but had only their own mistakes,
and perhaps the bounce of the ball, to blame for their failure -
if "failure" is the right word for it.
But, in 1978, it always seemed that something more sinister was afoot,
as if not everyone was playing by the same rules.
Of course, every team that plays at home is likely to get the benefit of some
refereeing decisions, whether playing in the World Cup or in the
Scarborough Sunday League, and all opinions offered about match officials
will always be personal and subjective.
In Argentina, it is generally accepted that the Holland team of 1978
was simply too long in the tooth to cope with the demands of extra time,
and that on its own explains the result.
And, if the tournament had actually been "fixed",
no doubt some irrefutable evidence would have come to light by now,
so it seems reasonable to say that the result wasn't actually preordained.
But, during this World Cup, Argentina seemed to get the benefit of every decision,
on and off the field, from beginning to end.
Not the result of a "fix", maybe,
but many people, especially outside the game,
did have an interest in securing a victory for the home side,
and anyone who knows the game must concede that the favouritism
shown them by match officials and bureaucrats alike was striking.
These two observations, taken together,
will always prevent Argentina's triumph from receiving
the world-wide acclaim its people would maintain it deserves.
I'd sum it up by saying that Argentina
were a good team, indeed, but just how good we'll never know
- and that's their own fault.
Their evident determination to win at any cost to their reputation
will always mean that, having succeeded, the triumph must be put into that context,
must always be qualified by dark accusations which, if they can never be substantiated,
can never be disproved either, and won't go away.
It's just the price you have to pay.