If one football match could sum up a season in its entirety, then Hertha BSC's dramatic defeat to lowly SC Darmstadt in their final home game of the season would be just that. Starting brightly, a stumble in the middle, before a damaging defeat with a goal towards the end, many left the Olympiastadion that day in despair.
However, given that Hertha had long ago sealed their goal of safety, and were on the brink of European football for the first time since 2009, this bitter end to a bitter game was not what Hertha's season merited.
Squad transformed by Pal Dardai
After a tortuous 2014/15 season, in which Hertha barely clung on for their Bundesliga safety, many could have been forgiven for thinking that Pal Dardai's charges would spend most of the next season battling the same problems. Dardai, a legendary figure around the club having played for Hertha for over ten years, was facing his first ever full season as a manager of a top-level football club. Given that his previous jobs were as the Hertha BSC II manager and a flawed stint with his native Hungary, the shrewdness with which he transformed the club in a relatively short space of time has been miraculous.
Instead of floundering with the likes of SC Darmstadt or even former mainstays of the Bundesliga, VFB Stuttgart, Hertha BSC's season has been one spent mostly competing towards the top of the table with the traditional European clubs, such as SC Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen.
The season may have started quietly enough, with Hertha beginning life firmly trapped in the middle of the league. However, key wins against the likes of Hamburg (3-0 at home), Bayer Leverkusen (2-1 at home) and 1. FSV Mainz 05 (2-0 at home) catapulted Hertha up the table and by the Christmas break they were sitting pretty in third spot and the last automatic Champions League place.
This had all been accomplished on a relatively shoe-string budget by Dardai, as he overhauled the squad with a number of astute purchases, many of whom were free transfers. In came the likes of experienced Bundesliga striker Vedad Ibisevic, who wold contribute 12 goals to the cause, Vladimir Darida from relegated SC Freiburg, whose performance have caught the eye of Real Madrid, and even Mitchell Weiser who arrived on a free-transfer from Bayern Munich and ended the season in VAVEL's Bundesliga Team of the Season.
The signings added to what Dardai was proving was a very accomplished squad, with the likes of John Anthony Brooks, Marvin Plattenhardt and the reinvigorated Soloman Kalou performing well-above themselves. At times, Kalou's ability on the ball was breathtaking, his easy dribbling style and close control a level-above his contemporaries.
All of these players were perhaps outshone by a man who began the season very much the understudy. Rune Jarstein's sudden rise to Hertha's prominent number-one and, in many opinions, one of the most consistent in the Bundesliga, has been remarkable. Singlehandedly keeping Hertha in games that they had no right to still be in, or to win for that matter, Jarstein's season is one of Hertha's highlights.
End of season slump sours the success
However the good news makes the end of season capitulation all the more regrettable, as Hertha picked up only two points from their last seven games as they tumbled down to finally end the season in seventh place, and by virtue of both Bayern and Dortmund reaching the Pokal final, European qualification for the Europa League third qualifying round.
They themselves were in with a shot of reaching their first ever Pokal final played in their own stadium, reaching the semi-finals before going down to eventual runners-up, Dortmund, in a one-sided contest. It ensures that the only Hertha team to have ever played a Pokal final in their own stadium, since the format was changed to annually hold the final in Berlin from 1985, are the Hertha Amateurs (now Hertha BSC II), who became the only amateur team to ever reach the final in 1993.
But despite these setbacks, the season of 2015/16 should be remembered as a successful one for Hertha BSC. European qualification and a cup-semi final leave the 2014/15 season as a distant bad dream. The end of season slump certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but the riches of success should be savoured.