This is the way to leave a stage: with a 17th home win in an unbeaten league campaign at a classic English ground, soon to be swallowed by a super stadium.

With this 2-1 victory over Manchester United in game No 2533 at White Hart Lane, Mauricio Pochettino's team confirmed what Tottenham are really all about: less girders and concrete than silk and steel. The whole point in coming to these places is to watch fine footballers. That was always the Spurs religion, and moving to a colossal new arena a few yards away will not change that faith.

This could have been a day of mourning for another title race lost, this time to Chelsea, after last year's stumble in the face of Leicester's unstoppable ascent. But there was nothing to grieve for here, as Spurs finished second in the top flight for the first time since 1963.

For the first time since 1964-65, Spurs went through a league season undefeated on their own turf.

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Sir Kenneth Branagh was waiting to recite the history of a ground built on the site of a former market garden rented from the brewers, Charrington, and occupied by Spurs in January, 1899. Branagh was not there but appeared on giant screens. The White Hart Lane crowd fell into a cinema-going trance as The Kinks provided the early soundtrack and black-and-white footage of the glory days brought an older London back to life.

On a pitch where Jimmy Greaves scored 14 hat-tricks, Glenn Hoddle sprayed artistic passes, Paul Gascoigne reached his zenith and Gareth Bale blasted holes, "48 legends" - players and managers - fanned out in the soft spring rain, before the London Community Gospel Choir sang Oh When the Spurs Go Marching In.

Pochettino's side have 80 points with two games left - enough to guarantee the runners-up spot. This is the side of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Eric Dier: a fine blend of English and foreign talent. The beauty of the parade - from Ossie Ardiles to Edgar Davids and Peter Crouch - was that new notables have emerged to renew this story of appealing football.

Out came "the original king of White Hart Lane", Alan Gilzean, then David Ginola.

The next entrant drew the biggest cheer of all: Hoddle, perhaps the greatest embodiment of Tottenham's ideology. Cliff Jones stepped out on behalf of the great push-and-run teams of the early 1960s. Closer to the present day, Ledley King was wildly popular. Teddy Sheringham emerged to similar acclaim.

Some could not make it. Gascoigne said in a message to the fans: "The time I had at Spurs was phenomenal. Sometimes I wish I hated it, because then I wouldn't miss it so much".

Jurgen Klinsmann, one of the first great Premier League imports, said: "I've never felt the connection so deeply between the fans and the players in a stadium." And Steve Perryman, who made a record 436 appearances on this soil, spoke of the future: "There will be a bit of despair along the way but it's a great, great club with so much tradition - yet so much history about to be made."

Gazza's reluctance to be here was borne, by all accounts, of a fear of being around so much revelry (and alcohol). In the great sweep of a football club's history, you see the ravages of life, as you do beyond the escapism of the game.

Then the current team came out in dark blue tracksuits to be handed responsibility for the most exciting but hardest part of all. The future.