So farewell then, Brian Ashton. And welcome back the World Cup hero, Martin Johnson.
Depending on your point of view, it is either the most shameful day in the Rugby Football Union’s history, or the most significant day for English rugby since Johnson got his mitts on the Webb Ellis trophy five years ago.
There will be much sympathy throughout the rugby world for Ashton, a proud man and talented coach who must be bewildered and exasperated at the events of the past month.
While speculation has raged over his future since the Six Nations ended, the 61-year old Lancastrian has maintained a dignified silence at his home in Bath.
A quick trawl through the 606 messageboards -“disgusting”, “shameful”, “a disgrace” and “beggars belief" sum up the prevailing mood – are testament to how you view his treatment by his employers.
Last week RFU chief executive Francis Baron, who labelled Ashton a “wily old bird”, said “Brian has to give us 12 months’ notice if he wants to leave, and we can give 12 months’ notice to him”.
Eight days later, with the less-than-tempting offer of returning to his old job at the National Academy on the table, Ashton has been unceremoniously removed from the senior set-up.
Former England hooker Brian Moore, a qualified solicitor, has suggested the shenanigans might border on illegal, and Ashton will no doubt be consulting his lawyers before deciding on his next move.
Certainly the whole episode gives lie to the theory that results are the only thing that matters at the elite end of sport.
Ashton’s record (won 12, lost 10) may appear modest, but it was better than either of his most recent predecessors, Sir Clive Woodward and Andy Robinson, at the same stage of their tenures.
Lest we forget, he took England, written off before the start of the 2007 World Cup, to within nine points of repeating their 2003 triumph, and second place in this year’s Six Nations, their best finish for five years.
The assertion of RFU chairman Martyn Thomas last week that “there are no prizes for coming second“ and that England’s goal “has always to be the number one in the world” might make good sound-bites.
But were they a realistic ambition for a head coach who took over only eight months before a World Cup, who inherited a team of coaches not of his own choosing, a playing squad undergoing a major overhaul and who was operating with a short-term contract where results were paramount?
If winning a tournament is the only criteria for success for the England team, what happens if they do not win the Six Nations next year? Will Johnson get the boot too?
One suspects not. His iconic status and legendary on-field exploits ensure he will be given more leeway by the media and public than might have been granted to, say, former South Africa coach Jake White.
One also suspects that Johnson will bring his formidable personality to bear on the whole England set-up, and sooner rather than later, bring in people he believes will achieve the desired results.
Ashton’s position was immediately undermined on his return from the World Cup by the damaging comments made by Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt in their autobiographies.
Regardless of the publicity-seeking headlines and endless interviews that accompanied both books, such devastating words from two respected senior internationals did not suggest a happy camp.
It added to the impression, forged in the troubled early weeks of the World Cup campaign, of a head coach not at ease with every aspect of his job, Dallaglio and Catt both citing deficiencies in his man-management skills.
Ashton did not distinguish himself as a selector either, omitting the likes of James Haskell and Toby Flood from his World Cup squad in favour of more experienced but less dynamic options.
It appeared at odds with his reputation as an innovative attacking strategist, evidence of which appeared only fleetingly during his 16-month reign, notably in the win over France in the 2007 Six Nations.
But when England found themselves in do-or-die territory at the World Cup, they resorted to the pragmatic approach that delivered the 2003 version, any long-term development sacrificed on the altar of short-term gain.
So what are England left with now?
A team manager with no previous managerial or coaching experience, who declared himself unqualified for such a post as recently as last November.
And a temporary team manager in Rob Andrew, who Sir Clive Woodward claims his staff voted the Premiership’s worst director of rugby during Andrew's time at Newcastle, is in charge for the most demanding of all tours to New Zealand.
No-one doubts Johnson’s leadership qualities, but can he translate what he did on the field into his new role as a manager, motivator and facilitator?
Will he appoint a new head coach, or effectively do the job himself? And will he retain the coaches he is inheriting in the longer term?
He worked closely with John Wells, formerly Leicester’s forwards and head coach, as a player, but will the relationship be a source of comfort, or tension, with Johnson calling the shots?
Wednesday's events leave just as many questions as answers, with none of the RFU's senior executives or management team emerging with any credit.
Andrew can certainly expect some awkward questions when he faces the media on Friday.
Having recommended Ashton remain in his role after the World Cup, he was understood to support his retention after the Six Nations.
But influential figures on the RFU management board decided changes were required, and Andrew now sees himself cast as either the man who shafted Ashton, or delivered Johnson’s triumphant return, depending on your point of view.
Nothing is black or white in the Machiavellian world of RFU politics.
Good luck Martin.