England's World Cup reached a suitably ignominious conclusion when they were humbled by South Africa here in Barbados.
England did not so much crash out of this tournament as slip away quietly. They have barely competed in it and this much-anticipated game was no more than an embarrassing mismatch.
The manner of defeat mirrored that of a minnow against one of the major teams. South Africa had nine wickets and 31 overs in hand and England were booed and jeered by their long-suffering supporters as they trudged off at the end.
"I've been to football matches myself where teams didn't perform and I've done exactly the same thing as those supporters," said captain Michael Vaughan afterwards. Quite so.
South Africa played very well. Despite dropping Makhaya Ntini, their seamers all hit the pitch hard, bowled with skill and aggression and found movement which was lacking for the English. On this form, the South Africans could win the trophy.
England, however, were awful. They lacked invention, courage, technique and confidence. In front of the biggest crowd of the tournament, they produced their lamest display.
They have now won just 19 of their last 51 one-day internationals, five of which have come against Ireland (twice), Kenya, Canada and Bangladesh. They are not in poor form, they are a poor side.
Perhaps England's success in the Commonwealth Bank Series was the worst thing that could have happened. It allowed the management to delude themselves into thinking their chaotic selections (36 players in the last 42 ODIs), conservative tactics and toothless approach were appropriate. The truth is that England have been a wretched limited-overs side for a couple of years.
This loss should, at least, hasten a changing of the guard. Duncan Fletcher's days as coach are surely numbered, while Vaughan must also consider his position. Indeed, even if Fletcher does not step down, it is hard to see how he can survive the publication of the Schofield report. This has been one of the worst winters the team have ever experienced and no amount of spin can dress it up any other way.
They were always second-best in this game from the moment that fine new-ball spells from Charl Langeveldt and Shaun Pollock stifled England's openers.
Vaughan took 20 balls to get off the mark, while Ian Bell survived a delivery from Langeveldt that clipped his off-stump without dislodging a bail.
England were behind the game from the beginning. A frustrated Bell (seven runs in 23 balls) top-edged a pull in the eighth over, Vaughan was lbw playing across the line and Kevin Pietersen (three in 15 balls), bogged down by tight bowling, tried to clip over mid-wicket but only lobbed a catch to mid-off.
Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood resisted stoutly, but progress was painstaking. Strauss started brightly, pulling one six off Langeveldt, but slowed to such an extent that he hit no boundaries in the final 17 overs of his innings as the pair added 58 in 16 overs.
It was to be the high watermark of the innings. England's middle order succumbed meekly, with five wickets falling for ten runs in 27 balls.
Strauss edged a thrash to gully, Collingwood played across one that swung in and Andrew Flintoff's miserable World Cup (he scored 77 in his six innings) ended when Andrew Hall found a way through the gaping hole between bat and pad.
Hall bowled really well. As a limited-overs bowler, the former Worcestershire overseas player has few equals and his five for 18 was not only a career-best return, but the finest for a South African in World Cups.
Ravi Bopara played a couple of pleasing strokes to give the innings respectability, but 154 was never going to be enough on a quick and true pitch well suited to limited-overs cricket.
South Africa sped to victory. Feasting on some fearful dross, the hundred came up in just the 11th over. It had taken England 28.
Though Flintoff bowled with aggression, Graeme Smith (57 balls, 12 boundaries) was murderous. His 50 took 34 balls and included nine powerful boundaries. AB de Villiers helped add 85 before edging a cut in the tenth over, but Smith was by now completely dominant and England left the field to a chorus of boos.