Five years on, the echoes of London 2012 were all around: the same venue and, to a certain extent, the same stars expected to shine.
At those 2012 Olympics, Usain Bolt and Mo Farah had sealed five golds between them, swapping their poses, Bolt with the Mobot, Farah with the lightning bolt as they lapped up the applause.
For both these 2017 IAAF World Championships were a farewell: Bolt hanging up his spikes for good, Farah off to pursue the next chapter of his career in the marathon.
Two of the predicted faces of London 2017, they proved just that, but more for their shortcomings than the dominance with which they previously reigned.
For Bolt, it was inevitably a championship too far, and in truth he should have bowed out in Rio.
But instead he ran on, struggling to a bronze medal in the 100 metres – upstaged by Justin Gatlin to a cacophony of boos – and then pulling up injured just a few strides into the 4x100m relay.
Yet in defeat, he garnered as much love as if the golds had been sealed or the world records broken.
Farah showed at 34 he was right to run on, winning a brilliant gold in the 10,000m only to have to make do with silver in the 5,000m the following weekend; Muktar Edris edging him out and stealing the Mobot in mock celebration.
To put it into the words of IAAF president Seb Coe, “Mo has taken to the roads, Bolt has hung up his spikes”, handing over the baton to the new stars of the sport.
Wayde van Niekerk has been signalled as the next Bolt but he too came up short, the energy-sapping nature of the 400m and 200m eventually proving a race too many.
Whatever he chooses to do next – and the 100m/200m next season seems the likeliest course of action – he is undoubtedly set to shine.
But a championship that offered so much ended with a sour note, the 25-year-old hitting out at rival Isaac Makwala for accusations of “sabotage” against the Botswanan, and favouritism towards the South African from the IAAF.
It had been the great duel of the championships, on paper at least, one initially missed when Makwala was quarantined with the norovirus and denied a chance to run.
The soap opera of these champs, the quarantine expired and Makwala was given a 200m time trial to make the semi-finals, solo and in the pouring rain, much to the delight of the crowd. He made it only to fall short in the final.
I'm so happy to finish my career in London...where all started!!! I only ever dream to win 1 Olympic medal..!! Ended up with 10 global titles..!!! Thank you London thank you the people for getting behind me every race..!! I missed my family big time!! @taniafarah86 #onemomile #mudaneteam #mudanegroup #mofarah #mobot
It was the stand-out controversy of what fell short of being a vintage championships, another notable talking point the eligibility of Caster Semenya to compete with hyperandrogenism, in which she naturally produces more testosterone than most of her counterparts.
It is a saga set to run on, the IAAF trying to prove that Semenya and others gain an advantage, the matter going back to the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.
In addition, there was an increasing number of Russian athletes – 19 deemed eligible to compete, Maria Lasitskene the stand-out with high jump gold.
The spectre of doping still looms large on a much-maligned sport, the optimistic narrative that the lack of world records – just Ines Henriques in the 50-kilometre walk – showed a cleaner future.
Ed Warner, chairman of these championships, said: “London 2017 has given athletics its belief back.”
Whether such optimism is warranted or not, only time will tell but athletics treads anxiously into life after the biggest star in its entire history walks away.
AFP Sports list five of the most memorable track races featuring Jamaican Usain Bolt, who brought down the curtain on his glittering career on Saturday.
Bolt’s arrival on the global stage was confirmed with a sensational run in the 200m at the Beijing Olympics.
Just days after winning the 100m in a then-world record 9.69sec, the Jamaican won over legions of new fans by sprinting to victory in 19.30sec, beating American Michael Johnson’s long-standing world record.
“I worked so hard to become champion and I will work harder to stay at the top,” Bolt said.
After overcoming a false start in the semi-final, Bolt delivered his best-ever performance in the 100m.
Covering the first 60 metres in an unprecedented 6.31 seconds, Bolt did not ease up and in 41 strides streaked through the finish line in an amazing world record of 9.58sec, a mark that will likely be unchallenged for many years to come. He followed that up by bettering his 200m to 19.19sec just days later.
“For me, anything is possible,” Bolt said.
The defining moment of the world championships in South Korea was a false start by Bolt, gifting the 100m title to teammate Yohan Blake.
The non-result is Bolt’s sole hiccup on the world stage.
“Looking for tears?” Bolt asked. “Not going to happen, I’m okay.”
After winning two more world golds in the blue riband event, Bolt raced through to an unprecedented treble of three consecutive Olympic 100m golds, an astonishing achievement in an event where injury often puts pay to a long string of victories.
After winning the opening 100m in Rio, Bolt said: “Somebody said I can become immortal.
Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.” Needless to say, he bagged two more golds.
Bolt opted to compete solely in the 100m at the London worlds in his swansong season.
But the dream of a fourth title was broken by American arch rival Justin Gatlin, who has served two bans for doping.
Gatlin’s teammate Christian Coleman snatched silver, with Bolt taking bronze.
But it was Bolt who was received like a hero at the London Stadium while Gatlin was roundly booed and jeered. “It’s not the perfect script,” admitted IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
Bolt was incredibly gracious in defeat, which saw Gatlin bow down on one knee before him after the race.
“The first thing he did was congratulate me and say that I didn’t deserve the boos. He is an inspiration,” Gatlin said of Bolt.
Furious Yohan Blake hit out at organisers after Usain Bolt’s dramatic final race at the World Championships.
Eight-time Olympic champion Bolt sensationally pulled up injured with 50 metres to go of the 4×100 metres relay and fell to the track with Great Britain taking gold just ahead of the USA and Japan.
The race started 10 minutes later than scheduled with two medal ceremonies for the 5,000m – with Sir Mo Farah getting his silver medal – and the high jump taking place before.
Bolt’s sudden injury ended his career in sorry style after he planned to retire from the track following the championships, having already won bronze in the 100m last weekend.
And Blake, who won Olympic 4x100m relay gold with Bolt and Jamaica in 2012 and 2016, believes the lengthy build-up caused Bolt’s injury in London on Saturday night.
“I think they were holding us too long in the call room. The walk was too long. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy’,” said the 100m world champion from 2011.
“It was 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run. We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. I think it got the better of us.
“We were over warm. And to see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that…
“The race was 10 minutes late, we were kept 40 minutes and it was a 300 metre walk. It was crazy.”
Team-mate Omar McLeod echoed Blake and criticised the organisation with his heart going out to Bolt.
He said: “It’s heart-wrenching. I gave it my all and I really wanted Usain to leave golden, or even if it was just a medal, it was really heart-wrenching.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’m in shock, utter disbelief.
“It was ridiculous, man. We were there around 45 minutes waiting outside, I think they had three medal ceremonies before we went out so we were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat.
“But it was ridiculous. We waited a really long time. I drank like two bottles of water.”
Team-mate Julian Forte, running in his first World Championships, added: “I really wanted to be a part of the team that sends Usain off in style. Unfortunately it’s one of those things, it’s part of sport.
“They kept us in the call room for an extremely long time in our running kits, and it’s not the warmest over here and they had us around there for quite a while, so I think they really need to look into that and do something about it.
“We were excited, we were ready, we had been doing some hand offs and everybody was feeling good, but they kept us hanging around for a long time, you know. So it’s just really crazy.”