Warwickshire 219 (Hain 52, Bailey 4-52) and 279 for 7 dec (Ambrose 59) beat Lancashire 152 (Barker 4-30) and 109 (Clarke 4-20, Patel 3-46) by 237 runs

In the end, the spectre of relegation did not materialise for either team, even though the heaviest defeat of their season in terms of runs left Lancashire sweating for a few hours on the outcome of Hampshire's escape bid in Southampton.

Warwickshire knew they were safe at lunchtime in effect, with all three of the batsmen they had identified as most likely to deny them the win safely seen off. Lancashire were 72 for 6, having lost Haseeb Hameed, Steven Croft and Liam Livingstone in the morning session and the handshakes of congratulation exchanged between the Warwickshire players as they left the field did not seem premature.

Indeed, within 50 minutes of coming out again the match was over. Lancashire did their utmost to resist, nightwatchman Simon Kerrigan manfully extending his duties to two hours and 22 minutes before he was at last winkled out by Jeetan Patel.

Patel took three wickets to finish the season with 69 in the Championship, reaffirming his status as the most consistently effective spin bowler in the competition. Rikki Clarke, willingly bending his back as if he were 24 rather than 34, claimed four and Chris Wright, who has finished the summer looking rejuvenated, a couple. Their combined weight of knowledge, their ability to deliver when it matters was always likely to be too much for a Lancashire side at the other end of the spectrum in terms of experience. And so it proved.

After winning a trophy at Lord's last weekend, it has been a good week for Warwickshire. Yet no one is pretending there are not major issues to address after a season that they began with expectations - among pundits at least - that they would be pushing for the title.

"It is satisfying in that the way we bowled and fielded in the first innings was exceptional, we then backed it up with the bat in the second innings and pressed home the advantage with the ball," Warwickshire's director of cricket Dougie Brown said.

"We knew we had to play 12 good sessions and not lose our way as we have done in some games and we did that. But it is frustrating that we have left it to the last game of the season to play one of our best games.

"Is everything rosy after winning a trophy? No. Because we don't want to be fighting to stay in the division, we want to be competing for silverware on all fronts.

"So we will reviewing the season as players and as a management team, looking at what we need to do.

"We think we know what the conclusions will be but we need to get to the bits that are important and just make sure we have a focus during the next few weeks and months, so that we are champing at the bit at the start of next season."

Brown admits that the challenge he faces is to rejuvenate the team while still making the most of what Patel, Clarke, Wright and Keith Barker can still deliver with the ball, likewise Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott and others with the bat.

"Refreshing the squad is difficult," he said. "You are always faced with trading off performance against potential performance down the line. We know the age profile of the team is not going south, it's going north.

"But you can't argue with the fact that Jeetan is top of the MVP ratings and Keith and Rikki are in the top 10. It would be madness to say that because these guys are older players you just cut them.

"Injuries have not helped. Mark Adair would have played a lot more but he has a stress fracture in his back, as would Aaron Thomason, an extremely talented all-rounder, but he has a stress fracture in his back as well."

Bell's season could have been better, but allowance has to be made for the refocusing he has had to make after slipping off England's radar for the first time in more than a decade. What's more his appetite to play on is undiminished.

"It has been an adjustment for me," he said. "The style of cricket and the amount of cricket has been different. The style of bowling is different, facing guys I have not faced before.

"It has been a challenge. But I will learn from the experiences and I still want to improve. My desire is still to play for England but putting on a Warwickshire shirt means as much to me.

"It does not work for everybody but I see Trescothick playing for Somerset at 40 with the same desire, likewise Paul Collingwood up at Durham and I want to go on as long as I can and win trophies."

For Ashley Giles, the previous occupant of Brown's position and now Lancashire's guiding force, emotions were mixed. The possibility of going down has been hard to take but he sees plenty of cause for optimism.

"We have been beaten by the side, one with a wealth of experience, but you don't like losing. It hurts," he said. "Not winning more games has cost us, and we've only got ourselves to blame. Overall, if you don't win games of cricket, you're going to be behind the eight-ball.

"There's obviously been factors that will be pointed in my direction, such as not replacing Neil Wagner, although there were not a lot of available options. But Alviro Petersen going, we couldn't do much about.

"I will say at the same time that we've been able to blood some really good youngsters and we've seen some really good performances. I know it sounds like I'm looking for positives, but you can't question the way Haseeb has come on, how Livingstone has come on and Rob Jones and Tom Bailey too. At the moment, we all feel pretty crap. But time's a healer.

"We outperformed expectations up front, and suddenly everyone's going 'we're going to win the Championship'. That's why I started the season saying 'we need to stay up'. I didn't mean that negatively. It's because of where we are and we knew in reality it would be a struggle.

"But I knew that if we consolidated our position in Division One, we'd be better for it next year. And I stand by that."