For much of the season it’s been more a case of when, rather than if Aston Villa would get relegated, and the Villans’ downfall was finally confirmed last weekend away at Manchester United.
The irony that they would be downed to the side they finished second to in the inaugural Premier League campaign really highlights how far Villa have lost their way, as their 28-year stay in the top flight reaches its finale.
With no permanent manager in place, the future of near enough every player under speculation and all the atmosphere of a funeral at Villa Park, things have arguably never been bleaker.
And now they must work out how to deal with life in the Championship and it won’t be easy.
Here are five reasons why…
The Championship is a minefield of perils
Rotherham away on a wet Tuesday night in November? At home to a side fighting relegation with two games to go? Heading to a team who want to impress a new manager?
These are just three of the traditional pitfalls the Championship is laden with at every turn.
Other teams are simply more organised
Teams like Ipswich and Wolves have been looking to get out of the Championship for several years, and are far more adjusted to the rigours of regular Saturday/Tuesday/Saturday football.
Even further down the table, Villa will be playing sides like Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest, teams who know how to get through a gruelling 46-game campaign.
The stats aren’t exactly promising
How many teams who finish bottom in the Premier League come straight back up? 7/23
How many teams who finish bottom in the Premier League are yet to come back at all? 6/23
So there you go, statistically there’s over a 66 per cent chance Villa won’t return next year while it’s more than 25 per cent likely they don’t make it back to the top at all. Gulp.
There’s no experience like Championship experience
Next season Aston Villa will be coming up against players, managers and even fans who know that the Championship is a marathon not a sprint.
They’ll know that a four-game winless streak isn’t something to lose your head over.
They’ll know how to make the most of any momentum which falls their way.
They’ll know there’ll be times when they sit 18th in the table in October and times when they sit third at Christmas.
Villa don’t know any of this.
Their squad just isn’t good enough
Either Villa will be heading into the Championship with a team that just isn’t good enough – Joleon Lescott, Gabriel Agbonlahor et al.
Or they’ll need a total summer overhaul, and that will take time to gel.
And then there’s the fact they don’t know who their manager next season will be.
Whichever way you look at it, Villa are in for a rough ride next term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.