A question – if hardly anyone is there to see it, did Fulham really have a goalless draw at Craven Cottage? After 196 games, nine years, four months and three days, one of English football’s most ridiculous statistics was consigned to the history books after neither Fulham or Brighton and Hove Albion could break the deadlock in a scrappy relegation six-pointer last night. You’d expect Richard Osman to weave this fantastic factoid into one of his gameshows before too long and, as long as the contestants weren’t regulars at the Cottage, it would probably register as pointless too.

The streak started unremarkably enough, with Martin Jol’s first game in charge against Aston Villa on a seriously hot afternoon by the banks of the Thames. The Dutchman, who came to have a rather reckless disregard for the finer arts of defending, began by separating the Thames Barrier to fit Philippe Senderos into the Fulham back four, shifting Aaron Hughes to right back. His teams were brimmed full of flair players and Fulham’s fortunes see-sawed from the sublime, when Clint Dempsey scored 23 goals in 2011/2012 and Moussa Dembele was converted into a classy central midfielder, to the ridiculous, most famously when he insisted that his side had won the second half after a shambolic 2-0 defeat at Southampton.

The Cottage faithful were treated to some outrageously gifted forward players in those nine years. Both Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff’s best days were behind them, but there was a period of purring at the laconic skills of Dimitar Berbatov and purring at Pavel Pogrebnyak’s remarkable start to what was a brief Fulham career. We marvelled at the Mahamadou Diarra-Demble midfield axis, but an ageing squad was in serious need of an overhaul. Looking back the writing may have been on the wall with the departure of Danny Murphy, even if Giorgos Karagounis’ herculean efforts in the twylight of his career were well appreciated.

The catastrophic 2013/2014 season with three managers ended with Dan Burn, now plying his trade as a flying full back at Brighton, hopelessly out of his depth as a right back as Felix Magath’s side were mercilessly pulled apart at Stoke. Mad Magath’s penchant for running above all else and bizarre belief in the magical healing qualities of cheddar cheese persuaded senior players to seek alternative employment as the Whites dropped through the Premier League trapdoor and a second successive relegation appeared likely as his quixotic team selections paid little respect to the Championship.

Despite dropping down a division, Fulham remained the great entertainers. Some of that was because Ross McCormack brought his goals and artistry from Leeds, forming a potent partnership with Mousa Dembele, but a great deal was down to an abject rearguard that featured a succession of shambolic defenders. Fernando Amorebieta seemed like a red card waiting to happen – saving his most iconic moment for a play-off semi final at Griffin Park when he broke Brentford hearts whilst on loan at Middlesbrough – Nikolay Bodurov was never in the right position and poor old Shaun Hutchinson, now a dependable defender with Millwall, seemed to have a different partner every week. Ragnar Sigurdsson has subsequently admitted that he didn’t really take his Fulham career all that seriously, Richard Stearman never reprised his outstanding Wolves form in SW6 and even Tim Ream looked like a fish out of water in his early days. All this added up to goals galore.

Even as Slavisa Jokanovic gradually put his imprint on a side that flirted outrageously with the drop, Fulham were far from solid at the back. The Serbian’s football was spellbinding to watch but had risk-taking at its heart, as was sadly shown when his stylish play-off winners couldn’t cope with the step up. At times, it felt like Fulham’s commitment to offering entertainment in both boxes should be guaranteed at the bottom of every match ticket.

The memories remain magical though. We had three years of savouring the emergence of Ryan Sessegnon from sixteen year-old schoolboy to the sensational talent who shushed the Gallowgate and the Cold Blow Lane in quick succession. The appreciation of Tom Cairney’s left foot continues today and that late equaliser against Leeds, curling into the top corner, can never be recalled too often. Of course, Aleskandar Mitrovic, who did so much to make Fulham a Premier League side in two different promotion campaigns, played his own crucial role in keeping the record going: sweeping home from Sessegnon’s pass in stoppage time against Huddersfield, after Aboubakar Kamara had inexplicably wrestled a spot kick off him ten minutes earlier, and providing redemption with a trademark header in injury time to beat Swansea last term after his own penalty failure.

Scott Parker, who was on the pitch for plenty of those games, now has the task of keeping Fulham above the drop zone in one of the most unpredictable campaigns the English game has ever seen. The early signs are that he will pivot to pragmatism in search of safety and the impregnability of Fulham’s rearguard last night should be recognised as an encouraging sign. He won’t countenance a capitulation to Claudio’s catenaccio but Fulham’s defending could become a little less frenetic, which we can all come to cherish.