TOWN may have missed out on the play-offs by a single point, but rarely can a season have finished amid such optimism for the future.
David Mirfin's winning goal sealed a run of eight wins and a draw from the final nine matches - a surge which equals the club's best-ever finish and provides an encouraging platform for an even stronger challenge next time.
A travelling army of 1,960 fans - who gave magnificent vocal support - roared their approval as the whole playing staff went to thank them at the end (Rob Edwards, Steve Yates and manager Peter Jackson getting special cheers from the faithful).
It was a curtain-call worthy of the progress made with mostly young homegrown players this season and what a pity they are not now gearing for a shot at the play-offs, because they are in the form of their lives.
At the heart of defence, particularly, Town are showing a wealth of talent - Mirfin was outstanding on Saturday with John McCombe not far behind - and there's no shortage of competition in midfield, either, where Adnan Ahmed has emerged as a real force alongside the Worthingtons and Brandons of this world, with Michael Collins catching up fast.
Town will need to find some more goals to supplement those of Pawel Abbott when they line up against the likes of Efe Sodje's Yeovil next term, but they are playing a brand of attack-minded football under Jackson which is proving hard to resist.
It's important, of course, that as many of the squad are kept together as possible and that the manager adds with wisdom - at least one in each department would seem the basic order of the day.
Just as vital, however, is that any new recruits fit smoothly into the spirit which has sustained Town through some difficult times this season and enabled them to emerge as the division's most successful side over the last two months.
Since their last defeat at Saltergate on March 12, where Jackson was forced to set a target of two wins for safety, he has been rewarded with 25 points out of 27 while Chesterfield (in that same spell) have collected just seven.
The run-in has also proved too much for Torquay, who snatched automatic promotion ahead of Town just 12 months ago but who are now back in the bottom echelon with it all to do again.
That's a further illustration of the progress made by Town, who haven't quite been able to match the efforts of Hull City or Sheffield Wednesday this season but who have still finished ahead of Doncaster, Bradford and Barnsley and, to the fans' delight, have done it largely with talent from within.
Perhaps the biggest lesson to carry forward will be that silly mistakes prove costly.
Imagine if Town hadn't thrown away stoppage-time leads against Bristol City (twice!), conceded late on to lose against Torquay and MK Dons and, most recently, if they hadn't allowed Colchester to rip away two points at the Galpharm.
Those will be painful crosses to bear as the players take a well-earned rest this summer and Town look to build on current form by achieving more next term, when expectations will be high and the pressure to do well even higher.
While Wrexham celebrated a very welcome breakthrough in their bid to play at the Racecourse Ground next season, Town condemned them to a ninth defeat there this season with relative ease, although they came under wind-assisted pressure towards the end, when Darren Ferguson and substitute Hector Sam went perilously close.
There was terrific defending from Mirfin, McCombe and Nathan Clarke in turn, however, and the midfield battle bubbled continuously as Ferguson and Ahmed clashed in unsavoury style to each earn a booking.
The result would have been sealed by half time had Town taken their chances - Chris Brandon missed the easiest - but Mirfin's stooping header from Ahmed's 43rd-minute corner proved enough.
Pawel Abbott hit a post nine minutes from time when a goal would have been a fitting climax, but it's 85 years since Town finshed a season so strongly - and look what that team went on to achieve over the next few years!
Jackson insists a play-off place was there for the taking this season, so let's hope we're talking promotion next year.