When Robbie Williams left Take That the writing was on the wall for the remaining less-than-Fab Four. Unlike a post-Brian Westlife they seemed unable to regroup and instead parted company shortly after.
Gary Barlow (pictured) sat back, counted his royalties and wrote songs for Donny Osmond; Mark Owen joined the support group for the formerly famous, otherwise known as Celebrity Big Brother; Howard Donald and Jason Orange to, oh, who knows?
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After an emotional reunion on a TV documentary, they decided to try and recapture their glory days with one more tour - before they were too old to pull off the camp spectacle and energetic dance routines without pulling a muscle.
But Robbie still casts a long shadow over the group, with rumours of 'if and when' he would join them on stage occasionally distracting the 12,000-strong audience from the thrill of seeing the heroes of their hormonal years back to relight their fires.
Their question, if not their prayers, was answered on the Manilow cover Could it be Magic when, by, not magic but the miracle of modern technology, the Bloke from Stoke was reunited with his friends - as a 20ft hologram.
Despite the disappointment of his non-appearance, there was ample compensation in a poptastically spectacular show which the four boys, sorry men, threw themselves into as enthusiastically as if they had been apart for ten minutes rather than ten years.
It was a start worthy of their second coming, beginning in blockbuster style as I,Robot- like they were regenerated, descending from the heavens to a hysterical reception.
Dressed like Regency poets in frills and frock coats, they looked no worse for the 12 years that have passed since they were last here. They slithered into outlandish outfits, pulled off complicated dance routines and embraced the sexuality in the lyrics that would (probably) have flown over the heads of their audiences first time round.
It Only Takes a Minute , in particular, was re-packaged as an erotic tango; local soul star Beverley Knight stood in, superbly, for Lulu on Relight My Fire, while Back for Good set the audience's knees aquivering as the four were drenched in water.
There was a tightly choreographed Beatles medley on an elevated stage in the centre of the arena before the boys wound back through the crowd to thank them for coming. There was also a cynically funny sci fi skit poking fun at their beginnings as they were assembled, like Frankenstein's monsters, to be the perfect boy band.
Take That are at the arena until tomorrow and return on May 16 and 17.