Lancashire's relegation to Division Two of the LV= County Championship was confirmed with a 109-run defeat to Middlesex at Lord's.
A year on from being crowned champions in dramatic fashion, the Red Rose county slipped into the second tier - and what made it even worse is that one of their former players consigned them to the drop.
Steven Crook, who started his first-class career at Old Trafford, claimed 5-48 to make sure his old employers didn't get close to a victory target of 304.
The seamer took out Lancashire's middle order as they went from 107-2 to 125-6, Karl Brown (33) and Steven Croft (30) his first two victims after the visitors had made a whirlwind start in their run chase.
Young spinner Ravi Patel claimed the final two wickets, including Luke Proctor for a breezy 26, to finish with impressive match figures of 8-198.
Middlesex had put themselves in control by reaching 305-9 in their second innings before the declaration came, Dawid Malan top-scoring with 95 with captain Chris Rogers weighing in with 86.
Their win lifts them to second in the table, though they have now completed all their games. Lancashire, in contrast, have to start preparing for life in Division Two next year.
Gareth Cross hit a valuable 59 for Lancashire as a draw loomed large at the end of day three of their Division One clash with Middlesex at Lord's.
Resuming on 236-3 in reply to the hosts' first innings of 446, Toby Roland-Jones soon ended Ashwell Prince's (71) vigil and then sent his replacement Steven Croft back cheaply.
But Cross, who hit eight boundaries, wrested back the initiative in partnership with Karl Brown - the pair putting on 77 for the sixth wicket.
Gareth Berg eventually ended the stand by knocking over Cross' stumps, although Brown (78) continued to find support from the experienced Glen Chapple (29) to boost the visitors' score to 448 all out.
Chapple, who claimed five wickets in the first innings, was quickly to work with the ball as he hit Sam Robson (three) on the pads to leave the hosts on 5-1.
Ajmal Shahzad then reduced the hosts to 44-2, but Chris Rogers (57 not out) and Dawid Malan, who reached the close unbeaten on 32, steered Middlesex to 129-2 by the end of the day's play.
Lancashire's battled back against Middlesex on day two at Lord's as they refused to accept relegation without a fight.
Three batsmen made half-centuries as the visitors reached 236-3 in their first innings having dismissed Middlesex for a daunting 446 earlier in the day.
Lancashire went into the penultimate round of fixtures with 17 points to make up on Surrey if they are to avoid the drop, and there was some encouragement in the defiance shown after a demoralising opening day.
A final batting point was achieved with nine balls to spare, skipper Glen Chapple collecting three wickets in the morning to finish with 5-86 after the home side had resumed on 389-6.
Luke Procter and Tom Smith (55) then shared 95 for the first wicket, and although both went in the space of seven balls there was no collapse.
Instead Paul Horton, demoted to No 3, joined forces with Ashwell Prince for a 130 stand broken when Horton (64) nicked a lifter from Steven Crook.
Prince remained unbeaten on 57 at stumps, though Lancashire will need a heftier contribution to resurrect unlikely victory hopes.
Middlesex duo Neil Dexter and Gareth Berg sent Lancashire closer to the drop on day one in their Division One match at Lord's.
The pair combined for a sixth-wicket stand of 148 to help their side recover from an early wobble to reach stumps on 389-6, with Dexter unbeaten on 123.
The hosts were struggling on 164-5 when Dexter and Berg began their partnership, which took the game far from Lancashire after making a superb start.
Lancashire skipper Glen Chapple justified his decision to field by claiming two wickets in the first nine balls, removing Chris Rogers for a duck and Joe Denly for four.
A wicket maiden from Simon Kerrigan removed Sam Robson for 49 in the penultimate over of the morning, but from 108-4 at lunch, Middlesex took the game away from their opponents in the afternoon.
Dexter reached his half century in 109 balls, while Berg followed from 81 balls in the evening's first over.
Pulling at a Hogg long-hop, Berg was finally caught behind off a bottom edge in the over before Dexter reached his century off 193 balls.
Dexter then stayed at the crease as Steven Crook (45) dominated an unbeaten 77-run, seventh-wicket stand to the close.
Lancashire began the penultimate round of matches 17 points behind seventh-placed Surrey, who are at home to Nottinghamshire.