Sussex won by an innings and 87 runs
Warwickshire slumped to their first County Championship defeat for 20 months and 20 matches as Sussex completed a crushing victory in only three days at Hove.
The result needs to be kept in context. Warwickshire's recent record in four-day cricket is excellent and good teams don't become bad teams overnight. The champions have won more matches this season than they had at this point last year but, goodness me, they did look ordinary here.
It was the first time Warwickshire have lost in this competition since the defeat at Canterbury in the last match of the 2003 season. But one has to go much further back to find the last time the team garnered only two points from a game; in May 2002, they gained only one in the loss to Leicestershire.
It is a while, too, since none of their batsmen has passed 50 in a match and that perhaps reflects their performance most eloquently.
John Inverarity was honest in the aftermath. "We were outplayed in all departments by a good side," the county coach said.
"These things can happen and it was just one of those days. We were second-best throughout and ended taking a real drubbing. I thought we bowled quite well but they did well to reach 400 in their innings."
The most worrying aspect of this defeat was the comparative lack of fight from Warwickshire's batsmen. Many of their wickets fell to inappropriately aggressive shots and their usual qualities of stoicism, application and patience were most noticeable by their absence.
There are mitigating circumstances. The uneven bounce of the pitch made batting something of a lottery and Warwickshire can feel, with a fair bit of justification, that they did not get the rub of the green with umpiring decisions.
They were without Ashley Giles for much of the match, too, though that is something with which they will have to live for the rest of the season.
Most pertinent of all, Sussex played very well indeed. Their team still contains the nucleus of the Championship-winning side of 2003 and, on this form, they will challenge strongly again this year.
"It was a very important toss that they won," Inverarity added by way of explanation. "We definitely would have batted, so that was very significant."
But the issue with the pitch is something of a red herring. It hardly deteriorated and there was little difference in the surface when each team batted. The truth is, Sussex used the conditions better when they bowled and batted with more discipline and better technique.
Warwickshire have flirted with defeat quite often in recent times. They could have no complaints if the matches against Sussex and Gloucestershire, at the end of last year, or the match against Kent this year, had ended in defeat. This time there was to be no miracle escape.
Warwickshire's batsmen too often played back when they should have been forward. The bowlers were tight and but lacked penetration and Sussex's game-plan was more suited to the conditions. Warwickshire were outthought as well as outplayed.
They began the day 271 runs adrift and requiring 122 more to avoid the follow-on. The dye was soon cast, however, as Sussex tore through the batting in a spell of five wickets for 33 runs in the first 50 minutes.
Jason Lewry bowled particularly impressively. He exploited the uneven nature of the surface expertly and found some swing while Mushtaq Ahmed, at the other end, was a constant threat.
Jonathan Trott pushed at a ball away from his body, the victim of one angled across him after a series of inswingers, before Tony Frost was harshly adjudged leg-before despite having taken a large stride down the pitch.
Heath Streak popped up a bat-pad catch, Neil Carter ' s attempted guide was magnificently caught in the gully and though Giles slog-swept two huge sixes, Dewald Pretorius was soon bowled leaving the follow-on a formality.
In the second innings Warwickshire had clearly decided to be positive, a dangerous ploy on this surface. Many of their batsmen are at their best when accumulating steadily and the attempt to hit their way out of trouble had more than a hint of recklessness to it.
Nick Knight suffered a vicious blow on the knuckles from a James Kirtley delivery that reared horribly and was thereafter understandably reluctant to lunge on to the front foot. As a result he was bowled, back when he should
have been forward, unable to deal with the low bounce. Warwickshire played down the blow but it did look potentially serious.
Powell, who apologised to supporters for the team's performance as he was leaving the ground, gave a catch off the leading edge as he tried to flick through the legside before Trott, yards down the pitch, was bowled attempting to thrash Mushtaq back over his head.
Ian Bell looked comfortable but edged a cut while Alex Loudon's attempt at a pull resulted in a bottom edge on to the stumps. Nearly all the wickets were the result of aggressive shots.
Bell's wicket gave Mushtaq his 200th first-class victim for the county - not a bad effort in little more than two seasons. Oh, for Warwickshire to have such a bowler!
The rest folded meekly. Four fell for 17 to an array of cavalier shots that presented catches to outfielders. It wasn't pretty.
Just to rub salt in the wounds, three players deemed surplus to requirements - Alan Richardson, Melvyn Betts and Kabir Ali - were among the wickets elsewhere.
That Warwickshire are capable of bouncing back is beyond doubt. Under Knight they have developed a resolve and spirit that will not be destroyed by one defeat. Mark Wagh is hoping to return to action in the match against Cambridge UCCE next weekend.
So an innings loss, a player suspended for taking drugs and two leading players suffering injury scares: What a day!