It took an extra-time header from Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid to pick up their first bit of silverware since 2008 and break Barça hearts.
Following their humiliating five-goal thrashing at the Camp Nou in the first 'Clásico' of the season, Madrid regained some pride, and ended a run of five straight defeats to Barcelona, with a 1-1 draw in La Liga over the weekend. This time they went one better as, for all their possession, the Catalan giants were unable to turn pressure into goals.
There were a couple of changes to each team from the ones that faced each other at the weekend. Barcelona captain Puyol was unfit to play after being stretchered off on Saturday so Mascherano took his place at the heart of the defence. For Madrid, Ozil returned to the starting lineup after impressing as a second-half substitute while Pepe was again preferred in midfield with Arbeloa slotting into defence for the suspended Albiol.
For large chunks of the first half, Barcelona were unable to settle as Khedira, Alonso and the sometimes overly keen Pepe, pressed and bullied for the ball in midfield. Down the left, the battle between Di Maria and Dani Alves turned into a fascinating contest, with both showing a relentless turn of pace and blink-and-you'll-miss-it step over.
The build-up play from both sides brought with it promising positions but the cup final atmosphere had defenders running on adrenaline and clear-cut chances were hard to come by. Pinto saved well from Ronaldo but with the half-time whistle fast approaching, Pepe must have thought he'd given Madrid the lead with a flying header that cannoned back off the post.
A Pep talk later and Barça rhythm returned. A half of fierce defending seemed to have taken its toll on a more laboured Madrid side, that allowed Pedro and then Messi too much space and time on the ball. Both were unable to test Casillas from range.
One-way Catalan traffic had Alves causing chaos down the right and a jinking Messi finding gaps with ease. A brilliant run saw the Argentine take on three white shirts before releasing David Villa, who rounded the move off with a drilled low shot. The offside flag put a halt to celebrations and forced Barça fans off tables but Guardiola's side were now dominant.
Madrid's captain between the sticks had to get down low to deny a Messi daisy cutter before an effort from Pedro that would have nestled in the bottom corner if not for a fingertip deflection from the Spanish shot-stopper. Madrid could even have snatched it at the death but Pinto was aware and palmed over a late Di Maria effort.
Extra time it was then and Barcelona were favourites to continue their second-half momentum and grab a goal. But Mourinho rallied the troops and Real began to settle. They could easily have taken the lead when Ronaldo put on the burners, only to see his angled drive fly fractionally past the far post.
It was a sign of things to come and after great interplay between Marcelo and Di Maria, a fizzing cross from the Argentine was met with a bullet header from Ronaldo, that sailed into the top corner, leaving Pinto no chance. The Portuguese star could then have wrapped it up following a surging break from substitute Adebayor but neither that miss nor a late second yellow card for Di Maria were able to prevent Madrid lifting the Copa del Rey. 1-0 it finished. All eyes now on Wednesday and the Champions League semi-final first leg.