Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill were brought together to reignite the fortunes of a Sunderland team which had lost its way under long-time boss Peter Reid.
Where do Cotterill and Wilkinson go from here?
The Black Cats saw Wilkinson as an experienced pair of hands alongside the more youthful Cotterill, who had shone while in charge of Cheltenham.
But Sunderland's season simply went from bad to worse and the pair were shown the door after just five months and 20 games in charge.
So where does that leave the sacked duo?
Wilkinson faces a difficult future after failing to turn Sunderland's fortunes around.
Managerial roles: Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, England (twice as caretaker), Sunderland
Honours: Div Two title, Leeds 1990; Div One title, Leeds 1992.
His supporters point to the fact that, at Leeds, he won the old First Division championship in its final year before the Premiership - but that was over a decade ago.
He was unable to replicate that success in subsequent years, his record in the transfer market questionable and his teams unsuccessful and unattractive to watch.
Sacked by Leeds in 1996, he left the harsh environment of club management for the sweeter pastures of the Football Association.
But while he won praise for his achievements as technical director, he was much much criticised for his role with the England Under 21 team, where he struggled to build on the giant strides taken by Peter Taylor.
Wilkinson might be able to boast of being the only man ever to coach the England senior side twice, albeit in a caretaker role on both occasions.
But even then he was not a success - and with his style of management increasingly seen as out-dated and old-fashioned, he may have enjoyed his last spell of club management.
At the start of this season, Cotterill was viewed as one of the brightest coaching talents in the English game.
Managerial roles: Cheltenham, Stoke, Sunderland (assistant)
Honours: FA Trophy winners, Cheltenham 1998; Conference title, Cheltenham 1999; Division Three play-off winners, Cheltenham 2002.
But his spells at first Stoke and now Sunderland have left that image somewhat tarnished.
After taking Cheltenham into the Conference and up to Division Two, with the FA Trophy won en route, Cotterill was rightly tipped for the top.
But his mistake may have been to try to ascend too quickly.
He left Stoke after just five months in charge, angering fans in the Potteries, and with little additional experience gained of managing in the upper echelons.
Sunderland might have seemed like a dream move - but, as Micky Adams found out last year when he went to Leicester with Dave Bassett, being the secondary element of a partnership allows you little room to do your work.
In retrospect, Cotterill would have been better off proving himself further at Stoke rather than gambling on a move to the big time.
Now he finds himself out of work and with the first big blotch on his copybook.
Another managerial role will come round sooner rather than later.
Cotterill is one of only 12 English coaches to hold the Uefa pro licence, the highest coaching qualification in European football.
The question for Cotterill is whether he has learnt anything from his spell at the Stadium of Light that will make him a better coach.