Last Thursday teatime, the door closed – or rather the window did – on a system which is unique to the Football League.
At 5pm that afternoon, the emergency loan window shut for business, not just until next season but for good.
Since 2002, the 72 clubs in the Football League have enjoyed the fallback of two ‘emergency’ windows per season, to loan players in and out.
If they did not manage to do business within the time limits of FIFA’s summer and winter transfer windows, then the opportunity arose to dabble in the loan market.
The difference was that deals done in the league’s loan window were limited to 93 days and technically, had to be an emergency.
It is safe to say that the word ‘emergency’ was one which has been stretched beyond recognition since the moment the system came into play.
For the majority of clubs, the loan windows have just been seen as an extension of the transfer windows, just without Jim White and his bright yellow tie.
On a more serious note, the emergency loan system has probably kept some clubs in business.
Outside of the Premier League, many clubs cannot afford to over-stock their squads with players.
So the Football League’s loan window allowed clubs to bide their time and make their move for a target outside of the two main windows.
It also gave clubs with money worries the chance to off-load players and raise some cash outside of the two windows.
Premier League clubs benefitted too, with them able to loan young players to sides in the Football League to aid their development.
Things changed slightly on Thursday, FIFA putting the padlock on the league’s emergency window once and for all.
Loans can still happen but must be done in the two transfer windows.
Players can be loaned for the full season or between windows but there will be no emergency 93-day deals.
No more will managers in the Football League be able to announce on February 1 and September 1 that they have the loan window to fall back on.
FIFA always viewed the emergency loan window in England with suspicion.
They just about tolerated it and granted an extension to it for this season.
But unless there is a big change of heart and U-turn, that is all folks.
The loan system, both of the standard and emergency type, have been well used by Preston down the years.
Focusing for a moment on the 93-day version, it has in quite recent times brought Adam Reach, Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford to Deepdale. All were initially signed on emergency loans, with those turned into the standard type in the next transfer window.
In the cases of Beckford and Gallagher, both went on to sign permanently.
Who knows, history may repeat itself with Reach in the summer.
North End were signing players on loan many moons before transfer windows and emergencies came into being.
Until 2002, English clubs could make signings, either permanent or on loan, until the last Thursday in March.
After that, you had to see yourself through to the end of the season with what you had got. Since 1972 when Roger Davies was borrowed from Derby for two games, North End have taken more than 120 players on loan deals.
These varied in shape, size, ability and success, with some etched in the memory for a lifetime and others best forgotten.
For every David Beckham and Jordan Pickford, there has been a Simon Jeffels and a Phil Harrington.
Beckham stands out as a young player who made such a positive impact when on loan 21 years ago.
In just five appearances, he showed his potential to the extent Sir Alex Ferguson had him back at Old Trafford and in Manchester United’s squad after calling him back.
And talking of Fergie Snr, few PNE fans will ever forget him recalling Ritchie de Laet, Matty James and Josh King in the aftermath of North End sacking son and heir Darren in December 2010.
The speed in which the fax demanding their return to Carrington, landed in the Deepdale in-tray, would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money.
Supporters will all have their favourites and indeed nightmares, when it comes to Preston North End’s loan signings.
The ‘king of the plastic’ Brian Mooney initially moved to Deepdale on a month’s loan from Liverpool before PNE signed him permanently.
It was a pleasure to see the Irishman in action – he mastered the artificial pitch to a tee.
Going further back in the 1980s, goalkeeper Martin Hodge twice came on loan to North End from Everton in successive seasons.
That era might have been something of a struggle for the Lilywhites but in Hodge they had a talented keeper.
As North End pushed for promotion in 2000, a loan player signed by David Moyes turned out to play such a key role.
Brett Angell might have been getting on in football years at the time but he still knew where the net was.
Signed from Stockport, Angell scored eight goals to help Preston win the Second Division title.
Current Premier League big names Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll both spent loan spells with North End.
Neither could be said to be a roaring success, mind you Welbeck’s chip on his home debut against Ipswich was an absolute stunner.
Carroll scored just the once in his four-month stay from Newcastle in 2007.
Some of Preston’s loans have not worked out for one reason or another.
Who remembers Amine Linganzi, Sam Hoskins or Bradley Fewster?
Linganzi was Phil Brown’s first signings and looked good for 44 minutes of his debut against Leicester.
Then his groin went and the former St Etienne man was never seen here again.
Hoskins’ signing in 2011 from Southampton was a strange one.
PNE signed Jonathan Forte on loan and the Saints asked if Hoskins could come with him – two for the price of one, so to speak.
The young lad did not even make the bench and returned to Southampton with Forte after a month.
Last season, Fewster was signed from Middlesbrough’s Under-21s side after injury ruled out Joe Garner.
He was an unused sub twice before homesickness forced his early return home to Teesside.