The Oranje Twitter feed had pictured the Dutch team in jubilant mood, rollicking along on a London bus ahead of the Tokyo Olympic semi-final.
And a ticket to the final was stamped with equal glee on Wednesday as the Netherlands moved serenely, ruthlessly, imperiously into their fifth successive Olympic gold medal match after a 5-1 win over Great Britain women, who will play for bronze and the chance of a third medal in a row.
On a blazing day at the Oi Stadium – Tokyo experiencing a 6.0 earthquake overnight, temperatures reaching 32C at midday – Felice Albers and Frederique Matla kept up their deadly scoring streaks as GB had no answer to the Oranje’s pitch passing power.
They are now unbeaten in 45 matches, their path to a third title in four editions made easier wth two goals in a minute during the first quarter. A Rio psychological repeat repelled in an instant.
First, Albers netted her fifth of the tournament after good interchanging from Marloes Keetels and Laurien Leurink.
Then, Keetels turned from provider to fierce scorer with an unstoppable low hit past Maddie Hinch.
As GB survived the half after a bright start, the third was started in the same fashion, this time via a corner chance which had previously alluided the Dutch from their first four chances.
A switch of posts from Shona McCallin seemed to leave the Dutch unawares during those, but this time a slap into Maria Verschoor was angled brilliantly past Hinch.
Six minutes later, a Dutch backhander on the baseline found a lone Dutch stick in the circle, Albers expertly latching on and looping over Hinch.
It took until late in the third quarter for GB’s first corner chance after fine direct running from Sarah Jones. Giselle Ansley fired low for her first Tokyo goal.
GB briefly lost captain Hollie Pearne-Webb after an accidental knock to the face during a challenge with Verschoor deep in the third quarter.
A fourth quarter then needed GB to score three in an Olympic-sized comeback.
Yet, they hadn’t accounted for Matla, itching to get on the scoreboard for a record seventh Olympic match in a row for the Oranje. She duly did so from their seventh PC as Hinch was unable to clear off a fierce forehand.
She has now scored 18 in her last 13 internationals and nine alone in Tokyo. Gold is within their grasp.
Ticket to the final
The Dutch hockey Twitter fed had gently mocked their counterparts after posting a smiling Oranje team on an open top London bus ahead of the semi-final.
The Dutch have won seven medals in 10 Olympics since the sport was introduced as a women’s event in 1980.