And so, the defending European champions are out. Chelsea become the first holders to be knocked out of the Champions League at the first-round stage, with the manager who won the thing only seven months ago sacked and the man who oversaw the last rites (and tragi-comically enough their best result of the competition) presumably to follow him at some point in the future.
Benitez did the best he could. In truth, beating a Nordsjaelland side who rested a few players themselves (they have a big league game at the weekend against FC Copenhagen) wasn't the trickiest of tasks - hell, even that bumbling number nine got a couple - but a 6-1 win over anyone, given the run that Chelsea have been on, is handy.
"We have to play another competition but at least we showed the level and quality we asked for," said Benitez after the game, firmly looking on that bright side.
Chelsea weren't knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday - they were knocked out weeks ago, with the defeat in Turin or the loss in Donetsk, and there was nothing Benitez could do about it.
The game against Nordsjaelland provided a neat analogy to Benitez's time at Chelsea in general - like Wednesday night, there's very little Rafa can do to keep his job. Of course, the likelihood is that he would not have survived beyond the end of the season anyway, but if Chelsea were still in the Champions League, he could've at least provided a big scale audition for future employers. With all due etc and so on, Thursday nights will not provide the stage he needs.
The Champions League provided Benitez's best chance of impressing Roman Abramovich enough to at least get the 'interim' removed from his job title (or anyone else to employ him later on), because this is where he excels. His strength is managing specific situations, setting a team up to do well in big games like in the Champions League. If he had the latter stages of this competition to work with, he could've showed his strengths, to Roman Abramovich or indeed any watching chairman. Now, he doesn't.
This does bring up the question, once again, of why Benitez even took this job. He knew that the Champions League was out of his hands. He knew he would be unpopular. He refers to projects (as everyone seems to these days) but this is nothing like a project - he'll be in place for only a few months and the club don't even have the decency to call him anything but a seat-warmer. Unless he's deluded enough to think that, whatever happens this season, Abramovich will prefer him to Pep Guardiola, the only reason for him to join Chelsea was to remind everyone what he can do.
Benitez's biggest chance to make an impression was not in his control - against Nordsjaelland he was howling into the void, knowing that even the most impressive victory would make no difference. A little like his entire job at Chelsea, in fact.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter