Still the rhapsodies play on for Spain, still the TV analysts drool like children in a toy shop. It is a beautiful ideal, of course, technical brilliance applied to the task of passing all opposition into a daze as they move towards the unprecedented goal of three successive major championship titles.
Of course, La Roja still play on the side of the angels, still show us fabulous accomplishment as one crescendo of tiki-taka follows another. But then there also has to be a growing sense that if Spain are on the point of making history, it is with a game turning in on itself, one that increasingly looks as if it is celebrating an aspect of the game - relentless possession and passing - for its own sake.
The statistics here, as they did in the World Cup two years ago, continue to show a huge imbalance between Spain's control of the ball and their ability to inflict killing damage.
Against a profoundly disappointing France on Sunday, Spain required a late penalty from Xabi Alonso to wipe away the possibility of some late eruption. It was even more perilous against Italy in a 1-1 draw, and Croatia set many problems as they threatened the Spanish route to the quarter-finals.
Only outclassed Ireland felt a touch of matador steel.
Now Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has to worry about the potential of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in Thursday's semifinal. Most of all, though, he has to be concerned about the German juggernaut which cuffed aside Greece in their quarter-final, despite key players being rested.
Spain beat Germany in a World Cup semifinal in Durban two years ago, but that was a younger, less confident Germany. It is also true that it wasn't some exquisite creation that brought Spain's solitary goal, but a late lunge at a corner from Xavi by the old warrior Carles Puyol.
A Spain-Germany final is still the dream of this tournament, but it is also one which some suspect will be the opportunity of players such as Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez to show that winning football cannot forever be sustained by art for its own sake.
In some ways we have not moved on from the World Cup final in Johannesburg, when Spain beat a Netherlands of dismaying, brutish negativity - but only late in extra time with a goal from the player of the tournament, Andres Iniesta.
He remains brilliant, but somewhat less dominant here and certainly he and Xavi and Cesc Fabregas have failed to convince anyone that playing without a recognised striker is a policy that can work indefinitely.
There were plenty of reasons to celebrate Spain in South Africa - as there will be here if they win again - but the uncomfortable truth was that in seven games they had scored, against opposition which included Honduras, Switzerland and Paraguay, a mere eight goals.
Four years earlier, the Italian winners praised mostly for the superb defence of Fabio Cannavaro, scored four more, and in 1970 the team still most widely recognised as the greatest World Cup winners of all, Brazil, scored 19 despite playing the fine former World Cup finalists Czechoslovakia, reigning world champions England, and former champions Uruguay and Italy.
Damn statistics, you say, but in football the ones concerning goals will always be rather important. In Spain's case they could even determine a place in history.
ROAD TO FINAL
* Thursday, June 28, Donetsk, Ukraine: Portugal v Spain
* Friday, June 29, Warsaw, Poland: Germany v Italy
* Monday, July 2, Kiev, Ukraine.
- IndependentBy James Lawton