It was perhaps inevitable it would end here.
After slaying Grigor Dimitrov, a second consecutive top-ten triumph was a tall order, but Kyle Edmund has finally thrown off the shackles of being Andy Murray’s friend.
His career trajectory has not been quite as spectacular as his British compatriot thus so far, but his progress in the last few years is cause for optimism.
To describe this as a changing of the guard may be straying into hyperbole, but if the condition of Murray’s hip fails to improve, Edmund will have to get used to being the headline act.
Going toe-to-toe with Cilic is no easy task, but the 23-year-old was holding his own in the early stages and had twice had the opportunity to break.
Those went begging and from there, the 2014 US Open champion took charge with a break in the sixth game.
Edmund barely had time to draw breath before Cilic sealed the set with a laser-sharp forehand into the corner.
The Beverley-born player was receiving a tough lesson on one of the biggest stages in the sport and was beginning to be bothered by a groin problem, leading to a three-minute medical timeout.
Nevertheless, the underdog came out fighting in the second set and this passion spilled over in the fifth game.
A Cilic serve was called out by one of the line judges. The subsequent challenge showed the ball had dropped in, gifting the point to the Croatian.
Edmund was incensed, arguing with chair umpire John Blom that the call led to him dumping his forehand into the net.
It is a rule that needs urgent review, with a replayed point far more appropriate in the circumstances.
After turning his ire on the tournament referee, the man resembling a liquorice allsort flounced back to the baseline.
The injustice certainly seemed to sharpen his mind, with a thunderous forehand skidding off the baseline shortly afterwards. The anger was palpable.
A tiebreak was the natural conclusion to a set in which both players had been exceptionally potent on their own serve.
Cilic’s big-game experience came to the fore again and a two-set lead was looking insurmountable for his plucky opponent.
The groin injury that reared its ugly head earlier on in the match was beginning to impede Edmund’s movement, as the match began to drift towards a disappointing denouement.
Cilic seems to be enjoying life under new coach Ivan Cinkus and he was really starting to find his range against an opponent who seemed to have accepted his fate.
A further break in the seventh game was the final nail in the coffin, with an Edmund error bringing an end to the match.
While the result was ultimately emphatic, there is no need to be downhearted from a British perspective.
This was a notable milestone for Edmund and, at 23, you would expect there is plenty more to come.
Cilic was modest in victory and is on course for a showdown with Roger Federer, who comfortably dismantled him in last year’s Wimbledon final.
Asked about Edmund’s physical condition, the World No.6 said: “I noticed in the third game of the third set, he let a couple of balls go.
“I saw that his movement was restricted so I was trying to move the ball around.”
There was a relaxed focus to Cilic’s game and although he has a massively inferior head-to-head record against Federer (8-1), his sole triumph came on a hard court at the US Open.
Edmund will only be looking up.
Murray’s career has been defined by an incredible consistency at Grand Slams and a relentless work ethic to maintain that level of excellence.
The fact that the Scot has invited the young charge to his training camp in Miami shows that he clearly has the appetite to succeed.
If Edmund continues to show the hunger and big-game composure that has characterised his Australian fortnight, accolades will surely follow sooner rather than later.
Featured image: Getty