At the denouement of the best weekend the Heineken Cup has ever seen, a thunderous sound accompanied Toulouse on their lap of honour.
The chant from a raucous choir of more than 30,000 could be heard all over the city: 'Ils sont ou les Parisians?' Where are the Parisians?
Stade Francais, twice beaten finalists, were nowhere to be seen after being counted out of the tournament and the same taunting question will be asked by the Toulousain faithful when the 24 qualifiers line up on the starting grid next season.
When it comes to the big European occasions, nobody does it better than Toulouse. At the end of a three-day event featuring colossal matches in Dublin, San Sebastian and Limerick, the most decorated club in Heineken history responded by trumping the lot, as if sensing the need to remind everyone else that the competition matters more in Toulouse than anywhere else.
The unrelenting drama of the three previous ties had goaded them into saving the best for last. There is a geometric beauty about Toulouse, a multi-skill set of forwards like Jean Bouilhou and Patricio Albacete, which imbues them with an almost bewitching quality orchestrated in midfield by the supreme pupeteer, Yannick Jauzion.
It took some doing given what had gone before - Leinster squeezing home by one point in 57 against Clermont Auvergne on Friday night; Biarritz, incredibly, doing exactly the same against the Ospreys the following afternoon before Munster put Northampton in their place for daring to think the champions of 2006 and 2008 could be given the heave-ho.
Nineteen tries and 224 points made this the ultimate quarter-final tour de force, creating a last four without precedent.
For only the second time both semi-finals will be Franco-Irish affairs, reflecting their Grand Slam status over the last two Six Nations' championships. For the second time, too, since the Heineken began changing the rugby landscape of Europe in 1995, the semi-finals will be a UK-free zone.
By rising imperiously to the presence of their pink-shirted rivals from the capital, Toulouse delivered the most decisive quarter-final victory of all in reaching their ninth semi-final. For sheer, unadulterated passion and riotous colour, the whole weekend experience exceeded anything witnessed during the Six Nations.
The Heineken has something which other tournaments across the rugby world can only dream about, an enduring magic which has now been transported from the more traditional venues across the Bay of Biscay to San Sebastian. Every match brought thrilling reaffirmation of the magical quality, nowhere more strikingly than in Toulouse where the chemistry creates a high-voltage effect.
Nobody is better qualified on the subject than Byron Kelleher, the All Black nearing the end of his third season at the club. 'It makes you feel as if electricity is shooting around the stadium,' he said during the euphoric aftermath of the 42-16 de-flowering of Stade. 'You plug into it and it charges through your body. The rugby ambience in the south of France is incredible and I am very lucky to have been adopted by the people here.'
There can be no question that the annual battle for Europe has outstripped Super 14 as the club tournament par excellence with another sell-out 80,000-plus guaranteed for the final in Paris on May 22. Kelleher, a veteran of both competitions, questions the gruelling length of the Northern Hemisphere season but not the soaring box-office appeal of the Heineken Cup.
'I'm not too sure there are any other competitions where you get 80,000 for the final and, in some cases, for a semi-final,' he says.
Its success has forced a lot of clubs to change their attitude, to get rid of the mentality of just winning at home and start winning away from home.'
Leinster, next up in Toulouse on May 1, have not had any trouble in that respect. The defending champions can trace their conversion from a middle-of-the-road team into the European elite to their 41-35 quarter-final win over the then holders in their citadel four years ago, a dazzling success which the ageless Guy Noves will use to ensure there is no repeat on the larger stage of the city's 35,000-seater football stadium.
Munster will ensure that the Estadio Anoeta is bursting at the seams when they try to stop the unified Basques on both sides of the Franco-Spanish border avenging their narrow defeat at Cardiff in the 2006 final.
The task proved beyond the Ospreys whose leading role in the second 29-28 classic of the weekend will be of absolutely zero consolation for a third successive quarter-final failure.
Brock James having contrived to miss enough shots at goal to put Clermont into their first final, Dan Biggar suffered similar anguish with five wayward attempts against Biarritz. The 20-year-old will know better than anyone that the game at this rarefied level is one of tiny margins, the Ospreys ending up on the wrong side of the tiniest one of all when they ought to have cruised through.
Despite Taku Ngwenya's 85-metre try and the American wing making the second for England's Ian Balshaw, despite Damien Traille's hat-trick of drop goals and Biggar's wonky radar, the Ospreys should still have been there as the sole standard-bearer for British rugby.
They lost because they could finish off only three of eight line breaks but, in the final analysis, they lost because of the Welsh line-out disease. Losing six of 17 throws turned the set-piece into such a recurring accident zone that Traille dropped two of his three goals as a result. The damage proved just enough for Biarritz to squeeze through despite having been outscored 3-2 on tries.
They may be the rank outsiders but Les Bairrots will not be losing any sleep over Munster's imminent return to San Sebastian where they perished in the first quarter-final played there five years ago.
It says much for the depth of Le Championnat that the seventh ranked team is in the last four of Europe and very little for the Guinness Premiership that the English clubs have all gone.
'Ils sont ou les Parisians?' They might well be asking the same question of Northampton, Leicester, Wasps, Bath, clubs with a grand aggregate total of six winning finals. The question will also be asked of other Heineken regulars like Llanelli Scarlets, Gloucester, Harlequins, Brive and Biarritz, none of whom is guaranteed qualification.
Toulouse: Played 8, won 5, lost 3.
Munster: Played 8, won 4, lost 4.
Leinster: Played 4, won 1, lost 3.
Biarritz: Played 3, won 1, lost 2.
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.