YORK City Knights fell to a 41-34 defeat to Featherstone Rovers in the 1895 Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

Here are five things that we learnt from the game.

1. Wembley was another marker of York’s progress

York’s league form in the Betfred Championship this has been underwhelming, to put it kindly. But a first trip to Wembley for 90 years went a fair way to redeeming that, particularly after the trials and tribulations of the past 18 months.

Putting aside the result, this was a historic event for the Knights and yet another example of strides they have made in recent years.

To be playing in cup finals at Wembley would have seemed like a pipe dream to head coach James Ford when in charge during the days of playing at amateur grounds in 2015 and fearing the club’s existence soon after.

It it remarkable just how far York have come as a club since then and, after promotion to the Championship and the long-awaited move to the LNER Community Stadium, an appearance on the national stage was yet another example of just that.

2. A cup final at Wembley is such a special event

It has been two years since rugby league has seen an event on this scale amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

For many, the scenes of half-empty grounds have sadly become the expectation. While Wembley was not a sell out at the weekend, the 40,000-plus crowd made for a fantastic atmosphere.

Fans wearing shirts from various clubs not involved in the final, such as Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos and Hunslet, were visible and played their part in a joyous occasion that showed just why rugby league markets itself as a sport grounded to its die-hard communities.

There is sporadically talk of a venue change for the Challenge Cup final, perhaps to a venue in the heartlands where a sell-out is a guarantee.

But the history, prestige and anticipation that surrounds Wembley is like no other, as witnessed at the weekend.

3. The Knights need to build on their performance

Back in May, York were narrowly beaten 16-12 by Featherstone, in a game decided by a last-minute runaway score.

The Knights had hoped to build on that loss to the unbeaten pace-setters but have since lost six of their next eight league matches.

At the weekend, there were plenty of positives to be taken. Having feared a rout, York matched arguably the best side in the league for long periods.

Now though, sitting a spot outside the Championship’s relegation places, York simply must turn those bright signs into wins.

4. Mikey Lewis makes immediate impact on his return

The return of Lewis on a two-week loan from Hull Kingston Rovers was met with plenty of optimism and rightly so given his display.

From the off, it was clear that he gave York far more attacking threat than seen since his departure.

The 34 points that Knights scored against Featherstone were the most that they had managed in a game since Lewis' last appearance in the 1895 Cup semi-final win over Swinton Lions.

The 20-year-old set up Ben Jones-Bishop's try early on, provided the dangerous kick that led to Jason Bass' second-half score and got his own name on the scoresheet late on with a wonderful and determined solo effort.

The key question now is how long York can keep him. Lewis' two-week deal ends after this weekend and given Super League clubs' struggle with coronavirus cases, the youngster may well return to his parent club as cover.

5. The 1895 Cup is a brilliant concept

In its first season, the 1895 Cup was derided as a "Mickey Mouse" competition by one Championship coach.

The cup was then run as a mid-week competition, which proved difficult for part-time players.

Having to compete on three fronts - in the league, Challenge Cup and 1895 Cup - increased the demands on clubs that already lament the number of matches they are forced to play.

And while the prospect of a cup final at Wembley Stadium was hugely appealing to those without a realistic shot through the Challenge Cup, the fact that the game took place after the main event jarred with many supporters.

Credit then should be given to the RFL for rethinking the format this year.

Doubling up the early rounds of the Challenge Cup as 1895 Cup matches gave further significance to those matches and reduced fixtures congestion, and ensuring the game took place as a curtain raiser meant a larger crowd were in attendance by the climax.

The pandemic informed some of that thinking but next year, hopefully when coronavirus is not a pressing concern, the same structure can be seen.

With all that said, it is understood that York and Fev did not receive a cut of the ticket revenue from the game, which, considering they are thought to have taken at least 4,000 fans, feels unfair.