Watford fans descended on Wembley Stadium in their thousands in hope, but even when that hope had long since faded as Manchester City made history by completing the domestic treble with a ruthless 6-0 drubbing to lift the FA Cup they continued to chant until the very end.

It was an atmosphere which will be one of their over-riding memories of a final which ended completely one-sided, with Javi Gracia’s side crushed by a relentless, ruthless and exceptional football force.

One of the Hornets Achilles heels in the closing stages of the season has been not making the most of their opportunities. Given the calibre of their opposition, this was one game where they had to capitalise on any chances they came their way.

The game’s first big opening did fall in the Hornets’ favour in the 10th minute when they countered and Gerard Deulofeu picked out Roberto Pereyra in space with only Ederson to beat. The Brazilian goalkeeper did well, racing from his line to save but his South American counterpart will know what an opportunity it was.

Given City’s qualities, there was a sense of inevitability that it would be punished; David Silva giving the Premier League champions the lead before Raheem Sterling put them in complete control before the interval.

Watford tried to rally after the restart but substitute Kevin De Bruyne came off the bench to add a third before sending Gabiel Jesus racing clear to net a fourth.

City were not happy to declare at that point though, with Sterling the beneficiary, scoring twice to complete what he thought was a hat-trick and his second treble of the season against the Hornets.

However, that was to be taken off him after the match when his first goal was officially credited to Jesus.

Gracia made two changes to the starting XI that finished off the Premier League season in disappointing fashion with a 4-1 defeat to West Ham United last week.

Heurelho Gomes, as expected, started in goal for what may have been his final game in professional football, while Adrian Mariappa was preferred to Christian Kabasele in defence.

Having retained their league crown with a 4-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, Pep Guardiola opted to make just the one change with Jesus getting the nod over Sergio Aguero up front.

The Hornets, who started in more of a 4-3-2-1 shape with Deulofeu and Pereyra operating in wider roles, had to fend off a corner inside the opening minute, but did so without undue alarm.

The unlikely source of Aymeric Laporte had the first shot of the final with a speculative 25-yard effort that flew well over, but Gomes was quick to have words with those in front of him for not closing down the defender.

Gracia’s men though, had settled into the contest well, but they were opened up for the first time in the seventh minute when Riyad Mahrez slipped in Bernardo Silva on the right side of the area, but with Gomes committed at his near post the ball was cleared by Craig Cathcart with Jesus ready to pounce.

Two minutes later came Watford’s first big chance.

Kiko Femenia intercepted a pass, quickly played it to Abdoulaye Doucuoure who instantaneously released Deulofeu ahead of him on the right. The Hornets were in a two-on-one situation; Deulofeu intelligently played the ball early to Pereyra inside of him and through on goal, but Ederson was alive to the danger and raced off his line to block the Argentinian’s shot.

Buoyed by that, the Hornets increasingly began to have more possession and enjoyed their first period of control in the match. It led to another opportunity when, after Pereyra had been unable to get a shot away, he recycled the ball back to Doucoure, whose first-time effort struck Vincent Kompany as he turned away.

The Frenchman appealed vociferously for a penalty for handball; Kevin Friend disagreed – as did the video assistant referee – and the Hornets midfielder earned a yellow card for his protests.

City had been subdued but they almost had an opportunity when Mahrez was able to stand up a cross from the by-line and Gomes got to the punch ahead of Sterling at the back post.

With their next opportunity in the 26th minute though, the champions were able to break the deadlock.

Doucoure was hassled out of possession and the ball was played to Sterling, whose attempted first ball spun up in the air. Watford managed to get in header but the England star was able to nod the ball back to Silva, who was onside and away from Femenia and he struck a left-footed finish into the ground and beyond Gomes to make it 1-0.

City had their tails up and upped the ante; Mariappa forced into a good last-ditch block to prevent Jesus having a clear opening from Ilkay Gundogan’s through ball.

Watford had to stay in the game until the interval but in the 38th minute an already considerable task assumed monumental proportions.

There was no apparent danger when Bernardo Silva advanced forward with the ball, only to take Femenia and Gomes out of the game with a superb pass which Jesus stole in at the back post to steer back towards the target, with Sterling making sure as the ball crossed the line to claim the goal. However, the goal was subsequently given back to his teammate.

Watford did seek to lift themselves and a Holebas corner in the last minute of the half caused Ederson some discomfort, but Mariappa was unable to get his head on the end of the inswinging delivery.

An early Hornets goal at the start of the second half would certainly have made things interesting again but Pereyra over-elaborated when he had the chance to shoot, trying to lay the ball off to Will Hughes instead.

Within a minute, Sterling had launched a raid back down the field, playing in Jesus who held off Mariappa to get in a shot which Gomes saved well with his legs.

The resultant corner was played back to Oleksandr Zinchenko, who played a deep cross to the back post where the stooping Jesus headed home, only for his celebrations to be curtailed by a clear offside call.

Roared on by the tremendous fans behind the goal they were attacking, Watford continued to try and look for a way back into the contest. But 10 minutes after the break they were given something else to worry about after Guardiola decided to introduce De Bruyne at the expense of Mahrez.

It didn’t take long for the Belgian star to get involved, flashing in a dangerous cross from the right which Cathcart was forced to put behind for a corner.

Soon after though, Kompany was caught napping by a long diagonal pass forward by Femenia which Deulofeu latched onto goal side, only to scuff his attempted first-time finish across the target and wide.

If there was any lingering doubt about City completing the treble, it was put to bed shortly after the hour mark.

Pereyra was weak in a challenge, allowing Sterling to set Jesus away on the left and he passed inside to De Bruyne, who side-stepped Gomes before firing home to make it 3-0.

Gracia responded by making a double change, bringing on Andre Gray and Isaac Success for Deulofeu and Pereyra, but within two minutes of their entry City were celebrating a fourth.

The Hornets’ high line was exposed as Jesus found De Bruyne on halfway and he played an immediate return to send the young Brazilian streaking clear to calmly beat his compatriot Gomes to score.

Both sides made a change in the 73rd minute; Tom Cleverley replacing Hughes and Leroy Sane coming on for Gundogan, but the Hornets tried to be positive in th face of an impossible task with Etienne Capoue following Doucuoure’s lead a short time beforehand and firing over the top.

The substitutions were completed when John Stones replaced Silva before goal number five arrived in the 81st minute, Bernardo Silva bursting clear on the left before squaring the ball for Sterling to fire into the roof of the net.

What followed was emotional; it was magnificent as the Watford end of Wembley was turned once again into a sea of yellow and red flags.

But still the pain for those in the pitch was not over, the ball being cut back from the right for Sterling, whose first effort was pushed onto the post by Gomes but the England international was on hand to tap in the rebound to complete what he thought was his hat-trick as City equalled the record FA Cup final scoreline.

There was still time for Stones to almost make it seven after Sterling had set him up, but Gomes was able to deflect his effort over the bar.

But as City set about celebrating their historic triumph, the Watford players and staff went to the Hornets’ end of the stadium and stood as one to applaud the fans. It was scenes like this that will live in the memory long after the pain of the defeat has subsided.

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan (Sane 73), Silva (Stones 79); Mahrez (De Bruyne 55), Sterling; Gabriel Jesus. Subs not used: Muric, Danilo, Aguero, Otamendi.

Watford: Gomes; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes (Cleverley 73), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra (Success 65); Deulofeu (Gray 65), Deeney. Subs not used: Foster, Janmaat, Masina, Kabasele.

Bookings: Doucoure for dissent (22); Silva for a foul on Hughes (60); Femenia for a foul on Sane (80).

Attendance: 85,854.

Referee: Kevin Friend.