Colchester United's time in League One came to a close on Saturday afternoon as a Lucas Akins hat-trick gave Burton Albion all three points.
The U's position had been precarious for a few weeks, but their fate was finally sealed three games before the end of the league season.
Their cause on this occasion was not helped by a red card for Joe Edwards just sixteen minutes into the game, a decision that mystified the players and enraged the U's support in equal measure.
The ten men had held out for much of the first half whilst having to work on the counter, but were undone by Akins' goal just before half time.
Elliot Parish, so impressive in recent weeks, had repelled efforts from Duffy and McCrory in the first half, but could do little about it when the ball was squared to Akins to tap home just before the half time interval.
If the U's were hoping to get back into the game in the second half, their cause was not helped by a second strike shortly after the start of that second forty-five minutes.
Alex Wynter had already fizzed a fine effort just wide of the post at the other end, when Akins made the most of space on the edge of the box to drill home an unstoppable shot past the helpless Parish.
The U's continued to work hard as they looked for a goal that might breathe life back into the game, but Akins took the match away from them - and sealed his hat-trick - with another fine goal.
This time, he engineered himself space on the edge of the box before lashing home a low effort into the far bottom corner to make it 3-0.
With a lead to protect and no doubt conscious of the fact that Walsall were being heavily beaten by Bradford elsewhere, Burton retreated for the final twenty minutes of the match.
That afforded the U's more time on the ball and they worked it well in that final period of the game, with Moncur, Garvan and Bonne having efforts on goal.
But the match was beyond the U's and the final whistle brought to an end the team's hopes of survival in League One.
Two more games await Kevin Keen's side in the coming weeks and the quest to reshape the U's fortunes and set them up strongly for the new season, with a push for promotion on everyone's minds come the first kick in August.