A man known only previously as a schoolteacher and a Leeds player talked about the four steps to World Cup glory; transforming English culture, restoring pride in the shirt, devoloping a game plan, and finally, producing a squad with enough caps and good and bad experiences to deliver when it mattered most.
No-one can question the unifying work Lancaster has done off the field in the three and a half years since. He reconnected the national team with a disenfranchised support base.
But on that structural base he has been unable to build on the pitch. Four near-misses in the Six Nations, which served at the time as the negatives to fuel the one positive that would forgive them all, proved to be the growing cracks in Lancaster’s philosophy.
Over the last two Saturdays at Twickenham, those cracks spread so much they resulted in a complete collapse.
Lancaster is a good man, a dedicated individual and a meticulous planner. But where it mattered most he came up drastically short.
In the coming days, that is how he has to be judged.