The three bewigged government lawyers looked glum as the clock ticked towards 10 in Court Four in the Royal Courts of Justice.
They had good reason to. The High Court chucked out the government's argument that they had the power to start the process of leaving the EU without consulting MPs.
That's a serious problem for Theresa May, who wanted to be able to start the legal machinations of Article 50 without the hassle and political risk of going through Parliament.
MPs have already shown they are willing to be difficult over Brexit, or flex every muscle of scrutiny (depending which way you look at it).
And with a tiny majority in Parliament and most MPs having argued Remain, this judgement spells real trouble for ministers.
An emboldened Parliament is the last thing Mrs May needs when faced with the enormous complexities of taking us out of the EU. But sovereignty is what the country voted for in the referendum.
The High Court says that Parliament's sovereignty is what we've got.
The legal process will now grind on. The government is appealing at the Supreme Court.
But the machinations could well delay the government's plans and, with a braver Parliament able to make life more difficult, might the temptation of an early election become too much to resist?
The only way of making this headache go away could be a general election.