The early 1980s were to be barren years.
Unable to replace the players of the 1970s with youngsters of quite the same talent,
Holland failed to qualify for the 1982 World Cup,
finishing fourth behind Belgium, France and the Republic of Ireland,
in a very tight group from which two teams would go through.
Krol, Poortvliet, Neeskens and Rep all played in the crucial game in Paris,
which France won 2-0, thanks largely to a memorable goal from
the young Michel Platini, then a St Etienne team-mate of Johnny Rep.
Ruud Krol played his 83rd and last game for Holland in September 1983,
a 1-0 defeat against Spain in Seville in qualification for the European Championships.
This record number of Dutch caps was only broken, by Aron Winter, during Euro 2000.
Piet Schrijvers didn't give up the argument with Hans van Breukelen
over the goalkeeping spot until March 1984,
bowing out with a 6-0 win against Denmark in Amsterdam.
The 1984 European Championships would take place without the Oranje,
Spain finishing above a Dutch team now markedly in decline,
even though Rijkaard, Van Basten and Gullit were now internationals.
And, in 1986, Hungary qualified for the World Cup as Group winners,
leaving runners-up Holland to play off against (inevitably) Belgium for a place in Mexico.
Dick Schoenaker, Ernie Brandts and Willy van de Kerkhof
all figured in that unsuccessful campaign,
Van de Kerkhof becoming the last of the 1978 (and 1974) vintage to play in an international,
his final game being the 1-0 first-leg defeat in Belgium in October 1985.
The Belgians won the two-legged decider on away goals,
and went on to reach the Semi-Final that year.
Of course, our story does have a happy ending, if indeed anything in football ever "ends".
The Cup Winners' Cup success of Ajax in 1987 was the dawn of this new age,
with Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten in their team,
plus a young substitute called Bergkamp, and a coach called Cruyff.
Guus Hiddink's PSV Eindhoven won the 1988 European Cup again for Holland,
evoking memories of the early 1970s.
But the European Championships of that same glorious year were the moment
the nation had been waiting for,
as, with 1974 coach Rinus Michels back at the helm,
and dressed in just about the worst shirts ever worn by an international team,
the Dutch wrote a page in football's record books,
to add to the chapters in the book of football mythology
which they had written in 1974 and 1978.
That of course is another story...
In the 1990s, Dutch players have taken their place among the elite of Europe,
in the increasingly cosmopolitan club framework,
and the national team have been contenders at every major competition.
Dutch clubs, however, have had relatively limited, transient success,
as money has continued to lure their stars abroad, and at an increasingly early age.
Maybe one day they'll find another set of players who will set the world on fire
as did the great sides of 1974 and 1978, but probably they won't. Possibly nobody will.