"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about. It is the right time" - Sir Alex Ferguson, 8 May 2013.
It's a statement that we all expected, yet never anticipated. On Wednesday morning, Ferguson finally called time on his illustrious 26-year reign at Manchester United, and whilst we all knew this day would eventually come, none of us genuinely envisaged the time would be now.
As Sir Alex prepares to step foot from the perch he so assertively and stridently took control of - leaving 'Fergie woz 'ere 86-13' permanently inscribed on it - he exits with a behemoth trophy cabinet, a record collection bigger than The Beatles, and a footprint that will never wash away.
Of course, the accolades and eulogies have been pouring in from around the world courtesy of the great, the good - and Sepp Blatter.
Though each account differs slightly, they all share three beliefs in common - firstly, that absolutely nobody saw this coming, secondly that the footballing landscape has changed forever, and finally that Ferguson is one the greatest managers to have ever graced the beautiful game.
Even at the ripe age of 71, and with 26 years pf experience of 'his ways' with the press, Ferguson showed once more that he is the man holding all the cards as he announced his retirement at the seemingly least likely time.
However, it has been done with the upmost consideration from the Scot, and a great deal of work has gone on to get the club to a point where is confident of their future.
"It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," he said.
"The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level."
Whilst United cantered to the league this season with almost embarrassing ease, that can in part be put down to the poor standard of the opposition. Of course, you can only beat what's in front of you - and four picks in the PFA team of year highlights their obvious strength - but whether this team genuinely has been left in the strongest possible shape is available for debate.
Since they tied up the campaign early, much of the talk centred around who would be in and out of the club in the summer.
Ferguson himself said earlier in the week that the team only needs a 'tweak' but as their main rivals Chelsea and Manchester City seem set to make wholesale changes in the bid for some marquee names, United too - as they always did under Ferguson - will be required to build and transform.
It was strange to hear Sir Alex recently claim that the current crop was the finest the club has ever produced - and even more so that Phil Jones could go on to become United's 'best ever player' - as many devotees would argue that only Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes would make it into a Fergie Best XI, let alone an all-time team.
One of Sir Alex's greatest strengths was his ability to evolve, regenerate squads and get the maximum out of so-called 'squad players'.
Whilst his assertion is correct that there is a strong blend of young and old, alongside a tough and skilled English spine, there is clearly the need for another central defender to cover the ageing legs of Ferdinand, a combative central midfielder to support Michael Carrick, and a wide player to fill the substantial shoes of Giggs when he retires.
Without the captain of the ship at the helm any more, it'll be interesting to see whether new footmen are as willing to jump on board.
Whilst the brand Manchester United is always a big attraction to the elites from across the globe, the opportunity to work under one of the greatest managers of all time has helped sway many a decision over the decades.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a name recognised and respected in all four corners, and when he comes calling it's an opportunity that not many turn down.
The likelihood at time of writing is that David Moyes will be the man put in charge to lead the team into a new era.
He is a manager with no experience of winning trophies, of challenging consistently at the highest level, of dealing with star names, or handling gigantic expectations.
Of course, he is an extremely competent manager and certainly one that deserves an opportunity to work at the highest level, but it's extremely unlikely that the Scot is acknowledged and valued by those players and agents removed from the English game, thus making it that bit harder to entice the likes of Robert Lewandowski or Radamel Falcao.
Of course, the supporters with the biggest smiles on their faces due to all this news will be those of Liverpool. They finally get to see the back of their greatest adversary at Manchester United, whilst seeing their neighbouring rivals dismantled as they become a genuine threat for their title as the biggest team in Merseyside.
Out of anybody, though, Liverpool fans are best positioned to warn United fans of the perils of new management after a sustained period of unrivalled dominance.
The likely appointment of Moyes marks a huge step change in the future of Manchester United, and success will certainly not be guaranteed.
Many see Moyes as the ideal replacement for Ferguson as they share similar ethics around developing youth and building teams that last, though supporters will have to remain extremely patient and considerate as the team begins their new course on an unmapped path.
After all, nobody would have listened in 1990 if you claimed that Liverpool would go at least 23 years without lifting the league trophy again. 2036 must feel a little closer now for supporters of the Red Devils.
Follow Rich on Twitter at @RichKitto