Jupp Heynckes, the Bayern Munich coach, thought it was just one of those things. The fact that there are no Premier League teams left in the Champions League was not a sign of terminal decline. Asked whether the fact that for the first time since 1996 none of the English sides had made it to the quarter final was significant, he replied that if things had gone only slightly differently there might have been two in there.
And he had a point. Had Manchester United not got distracted by a poor refereeing decision, and had Arsenal not fallen asleep in the last couple of minutes during their home leg with Bayern and let in that killer third goal, we might have been looking forward to today's draw full of hope about juicy ties with Barcelona and Juve. Not to mention the prospect of David Beckham coming back home with PSG.
In a sense Heynckes was obliged to suggest that there was not a lot fundamentally wrong with Premier League teams. After all, one of them had just inflicted comprehensive defeat on his side on their home turf. Sure, Arsenal's win was too little too late, a performance which spoke of glorious defeat rather than glorious achievement. But nonetheless it was only the second time Bayern had lost at home in European competition to an English club. And given that they currently sit 20 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, it might indicate there cannot be a lot wrong with the English game when they have just been well beaten by the side lying fifth in the Premier League.
Yet Arsene Wenger was a lot less sanguine about the absence of sides from these shores in the latter stages of Europe's senior competition. He thought it a "massive wake-up call" that the country which saw all four of its teams through to the quarters in 2008 and 2009 - and provided three of the semi finalists in 2008 - was completely bereft of representation this year.
So who is right: Jupp or Arsene? Given that both men are rather too statesmanlike to resort to the Harry Hill method of settling an argument, it is left to the rest of us to debate it.
Heynckes' point that Premier League teams will be back is probably right. There is too much quality in the competition for some of it not to rise to the top. But football is a cyclical game and back in 2008 and '09 our sides were, simultaneously, right at the very top of their cycle. Manchester United and Chelsea both had teams at the peak of their powers. Liverpool were still contenders. Arsenal had players of the calibre of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie.
Since then, all those sides have slipped. United - good as they have been domestically this season - are undeniably not as good as they were in 2008 (if only because they no longer count Cristiano Ronaldo among their number). We saw the final flowering of the great Mourinho-built Chelsea last May against Bayern. Liverpool - winners in 2005 and finalists in 2007 - have subsequently been undermined by moronic previous ownership. While Arsenal have been asset-stripped by rivals. And Manchester City, who might have filled the European gap vacated by their rivals, have been dogged by wretchedly tough draws.
In short, 2008 and '09 was an exceptional gathering of Premier League power that was reflected in European dominance. An unusually elevated moment in time, it was probably no more representative of the domestic scene's long-term status than this season's failure.
Besides, the Premier League remains capable of attracting the best talent. Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Eden Hazard: their presence here does not speak of a league suddenly unable to recruit fine players. Sure, Ronaldo, Fabregas and Gerard Pique all went in the other direction. But they all had personal reasons for departure. It wasn't that they wearied of the football on offer in England.
But Wenger also is right when he points out that the Champions League is getting harder and that our clubs need to raise their game if they are going to compete. As English teams slip from the pedestal they occupied five years ago, there has been no similar slide in Spain's big two, while German sides are on the up. Also the injection of big money at outfits like Galatasaray and PSG is beginning to have an effect. He is right to point out that the gap the rest were required to make up on the Premier League five years ago has now been successfully narrowed. Home sides are going to have to work harder, more effectively, more smartly.
It would help his team's prospects, for instance, if they could concentrate across 180 minutes of a knock out tie. This week was the second season in succession in which Arsenal were obliged to play out of their skins to overcome first leg failings. On both occasions - heroically - they almost did.
But in Europe almost is not enough. Which, rather than hand-wringing about terminal decline, is the single truth that needs to be learned if this failure is to remain a one-off.