England signed off from their home World Cup three weeks earlier than they had hoped with a face-saving victory over enterprising minnows Uruguay in Manchester.
Twickenham and St James’s Park had played host to games of thundering intensity earlier in the day as Australia settled the ‘pool of death’ with victory over Wales and Scotland survived Samoa’s late blossoming to seal their place in the quarter-finals.
While the atmosphere at the City of Manchester Stadium was not as ferocious, it was by no means funereal either, no matter the fatal wounds England suffered at the hands of Wales and Australia.
If anything, the mood was optimistic in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the north as the departing hosts began the process of rebuilding their shattered reputations.
While a victory of relative ease was never in question, the biggest answers will be found in the coming days and weeks as the internal review into a desperately disappointing tournament begins.
Will Stuart Lancaster be given a stay of execution or fall on his sword?
Has Chris Robshaw played his last game as captain?
The events of the 80 minutes at the home of Manchester City would not be conclusive, yet at least if it is to be his last stand, Lancaster did so standing tall as England ran in 10 tries.
Uruguay, without a win at a World Cup since 1999 and playing their first tournament since 2003, began purposefully and were rewarded within 40 seconds when England strayed offside; Felipe Berchesi giving them a lead they were unlikely to preserve.
Nevertheless, their tackling and quick hands left the hosts under no illusions that any underlying disappointment from the last two Saturdays would be punished.
England needed the jet-heeled Anthony Watson to sprint onto Owen Farrell’s kick to get on the scoreboard on seven minutes and settle any nerves.
Forward power produced a second try with the evergreen Nick Easter the beneficiary at the back of a maul, Farrell proving accurate with touchline conversions to both.
Easter, who eight years ago was playing in a World Cup final with England, scored his second try moments later as England attempted to accelerate away.
But it was not until the third minute of the second half that they started to do so, Danny Care’s speed of thought and Alex Goode’s quick hands catching Uruguay unawares to allow Watson to dot down in the corner.
Farrell, that most-debated of selection calls two weeks ago, missed the conversion, his first failed attempt in 16 kicks at goal.
Henry Slade had showed flashes of what he can bring to the party and the outside centre was a deserving scorer of England’s fifth try when he hacked on and beat the Uruguayan full-back Gaston Mieres to score.
Care then found Jack Nowell in the same corner as England prised open the floodgates.
Easter completed his hat-trick from the back of another maul to make it three tries in a matter of minutes before the raft of replacements checked the hosts’ momentum.
There was still time for Nowell to complete his hat-trick against tiring opponents, who themselves threatened a score late on only for their busy scrum-half Agustin Ormaechea to find a white shirt with a desperate pass.
Chris Robshaw crossed at the very end as England’s home World Cup ended with handshakes, back slaps and a courteous lap of honour, but no glory.
England: Goode, Watson (Brown 66), Slade, Farrell (Joseph 59), Nowell, Ford, Care (Wigglesworth 72); Vunipola (Marler 73), Youngs (George 40), Cole (Wilson 43), Launchbury, Parling (Kruis 56), Haskell (Wood 62), Robshaw, Easter.
Uruguay: Mieres, Gibernau, Prada, Vilaseca, Silva, Berchesi, Ormaechea; Sanguinetti, Arboleya, Sagarlo, Vilaseca, Zerbino, Gaminara, Beer, Nieto. Replacements: Klappenbach, Duran, Corral, Magno, Palomeque, Alonso, Duran, Blengio.
Referee: C Pollock (New Zealand).