The man the London Olympics has been waiting four years to greet finally stepped on to the track just before one o'clock.
Even before his name had been mentioned, they were roaring the very presence of Usain Bolt at the Olympic Stadium.
The Jamaican, likened by one of his rivals to Neil Armstrong - the first man on the moon - for the scale of his achievements, acknowledged the cheers, stroked his head and waved to the crowd.
When the gun went, Bolt, as has been his habit, simply stood up out of his blocks rather than accelerating out of them.
Something to prove: Usain Bolt is under pressure
Well down on his competitors, he then proceeded to reel them all in, stride by lengthy stride, as he loped his way to victory in 10.09sec.
Best of the bunch: Ryan Bailey ran the fastest time in the heats
And, so, the questions persist: Is the fastest man in the world, the man who has run 100m in 9.58sec, merely toying with us, making us believe the final will be competitive?
Or is he, on a track which is helping to record fast times, about to rewind the clock and revisit that scarcely conceivable time he set at the world championships in Berlin in 2009?
At the Jamaican trials he was beaten by Yohan Blake over both 100m and 200m and his compatriot jogged over the line in his heat in 10.00.
Another Jamaican, former world record holder Asafa Powell, also ran well within himself in 10.04, as did the American Tyson Gay, the second fastest man ever, in 10.08.
Justin Gatlin, the American banned for four years for taking testosterone, took it a mite more seriously, running 9.97, but still looking mightily impressive as he eased up.
And no one looked better than Ryan Bailey, the third American, who won his heat in 9.88.
Bolt sounded unruffled.
'My start was much better than at the Jamaican trials,' he said. 'I've been doing a lot of work on it but we have come to the conclusion that we shouldn't worry about the start. We should just focus on the rest of the race as we always do, the last 50m - that is my strong point, so that is what we're focusing on.'
Normally that would be enough. But this is a man who has sought treatment on a hamstring injury.
And the four fastest men ever - Bolt, Gay, Powell and Blake - will be in the final. Gatlin would be the fifth fastest if his time had not been ruled out by his drugs ban.
And they will be running on a track that has been designed to stabilise foot control and, therefore, maximise the efficiency of athletes.
So if the capricious English weather holds out, we could be about to witness something very special.
'If everyone's ready to roll and the weather holds on, Blake, Gay, Gatlin and Powell can all run 9.7 here - and Bolt can't give those guys a two-metre start,' said Mike McFarlane, the British former athlete who was fifth in the Olympic 100m final in 1984 and is now a celebrated sprint coach.
'I also really like Bailey and was saying so in the run-up to yesterday's race. Someone could now run 9.95 and not make the final and all eight runners could go under 10sec. If everyone comes to London wanting to party, then this could be the most ridiculously fast race in history.'
Gatlin gun: Justin Gatlin storms to victory
Gatlin agreed with that. For a drug cheat in denial - he claims he was sabotaged - he speaks eloquently on his event.
'What Bolt did in Berlin was the equivalent of a man walking on the Moon, so when you line up alongside him, you're going to be in awe of him,' he said.
He might have been talking about Britain's James Dasaolu who, with team-mates Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili, qualified for today's semi-finals. Dasaolu, drawn alongside Bolt, endearingly reached across to grasp the great Jamaican's hand in glee as they qualified together.
Promising: Adam Gemili impressed for Team GB
It looked almost like the gesture of a fan rather than a fellow competitor. But then Bolt can have that effect on people, even hardened rivals.
To watch Bolt is to witness a freak of human nature, as Gatlin acknowledged.
'He takes fewer strides than everyone else and he's looking good,' said the American. 'He looks like the real Bolt.'
Maybe, but Gatlin also added that there was nothing to be sacred of and, for once, he did not sound like a man whistling in the dark.
Easy does it: Yohan Blake looked untroubled
For Gatlin, Blake and Gay - and perhaps Bailey and Powell, too - should all feel they can get close to Bolt. And that would never have been true three years ago.
'If the Bolt of Berlin turns up, no one can live with him,' said McFarlane. 'But if it's the Bolt we saw at the Jamaican trials, where he was well down at the 30m, that might not be enough.'
Not in this exceptional race. This time, Bolt finally has to answer the questions as the world watches.