As India's batsmen flogged a tired attack around Chennai, as they accumulated record after record, with the foul smell of sewage wafting from the Buckingham Canal, just behind the Anna Pavilion in Chennai, adding to the agony, it became painfully obvious that England had no answers to the questions posed of them this tour. At least it isn't a timeless Test; England could have been out there for weeks.
It would be nice to think that a day like this - a day when the paucity of England's weapons in such conditions were laid bare - would lead to change. It would be nice to think the ECB would act to improve things.
But they won't. And they won't because it won't pay to do so.
Oh, they would like to win in India. It would be great.
But they wouldn't like to win so dearly that they will give their players a decent chance of doing so. They wouldn't like to win so dearly that they will seek to prevent the increasing marginalisation of spin bowling in county cricket, or to alter the path upon which they are set which will continue to prioritise white-ball cricket to the detriment of everything else. They say they are the guardians of Test cricket, but scratch the surface and almost everything they do is about developing the shorter forms of the game.
Absurd though it may sound, England really haven't bowled badly here. Their seamers, in particular, were almost heroic on the fourth day. Despite having been in the field since the dawn of time (well, that's how it felt, anyway), they generated pace and hostility with the third - yes, third - new ball and their fielders flung themselves around with admirable commitment. Jos Buttler's gully catch would have been outstanding at any time; in the 171st over of the innings, it was incredible. There is no faulting them for effort.
The spinners will probably receive the bulk of the flak. And it is true that they are, judged dispassionately, probably not up to the challenge they have been given on this tour. Liam Dawson at least kept the run-rate under some sort of control and Moeen Ali bowled about as well as he can. You can reasonably ask no more.
But they have been let down by a system that treats tours like this as necessary evils. They have been let down by a system that is based around winning the Ashes - at least at home - and, of late, winning limited-overs tournaments. But it is Asia where the heart of the game beats strongest and the Ashes, for all its charm and (crucially) value, is increasingly the cricketing equivalent of the Boat Race in its parochialism. There's no reason it should be prioritised above all other series.
It's worth revisiting the causes of the current malaise.
As things stand, a disproportionate amount of the County Championship is already squeezed into the opening two months of the season. That means counties have little use for spin bowlers as their seamers can do the job just fine on surfaces that are often helpful. A new ball is available at 80 overs and, in recent seasons, there have been various experiments surrounding the use of the heavy roller which have, inadvertently, sometimes made life even easier for seamers.
Meanwhile, counties have sometimes prepared pitches that provide copious assistance to their medium-pace swing bowlers. While Jesse Ryder and Darren Stevens are both admirable cricketers in many ways, there is no way they should have been taking the quantity of wickets they were able to plunder in recent years. As a result, the role of the spinner has diminished.
"Asia is where the heart of the game beats strongest. The Ashes is increasingly the cricketing equivalent of the Boat Race in its parochialism"
Last season's controversial but well-intentioned change to the toss regulations have helped to redress that imbalance a touch. However, any county thinking of signing a young spinner has to think carefully of the value they will gain from them. Unless they can bat and unless they can contain in the short forms of the game, it is hard to see how they will gain the experience they require to develop to their maximum potential these days.
One of the most talented young spinners in England, the left-armer Ravi Patel, has played three first-class matches in the last two seasons. Why? Primarily because he isn't much of a batsman and his team - Middlesex - rely on a strong seam attack and the off-spinning all-rounder Ollie Rayner. It's not his fault, it's not their fault. It's the system.
The situation is compounded by the stance towards turning pitches. While few blink an eye of a side is bowled out in a session by seamers - atmospheric conditions and swing were credited when Sussex blew Warwickshire away before lunch at Edgbaston in 2014 - if spinners achieve anything similar, you can be sure there will be penalties. Hampshire discovered this in 2011 when they were penalised despite producing a pitch that resulted in a game being drawn in four days. More recently, there were whispers from rivals during the 2016 season that Somerset were, in some way, doing something untoward by preparing pitches that helped their spin bowlers. A good argument might have been made to suggest they were providing a service for English cricket.
There is a theory expounded by former spinners that the prevalence of limited-overs cricket threatens to ruin the action of young spinners. With their living being dictated largely by their success in T20, they are encouraged to develop their white-ball skills - the quicker, flatter deliveries you tend to see in that format - rather than learning the art of flight and guile that rendered Graeme Swann, who was brought up on spinning surfaces at Wantage Road, such a fine player.
But it's not just spin bowlers who struggle because of this situation. It is developing batsmen who find themselves on tours of Asia having never experienced anything like it before. Yes, there are development tours, including increasingly frequent camps in Asian conditions, but these are minor details when a major change of mindset is required.
And it will only get worse. From 2020, if current plans are passed, there will be no first-class cricket at all in August with the new-team T20 competition running as the priority. From 2017 there will be 14 (rather than 16) Championship games a season with every chance it will reduce further within a few more years. The opportunities for spinners to gain the volume of overs they require to develop their skills will diminish, along with the schedule. We may see ever more players who can bowl a pretty tight four overs, who can field with athleticism and have tremendous power and bat speed. But we're losing skills that used to be common in English cricket and once they're gone it will be very tough to recover them.
It would be simplistic to blast the ECB for not caring and not acting. Their priority - probably quite rightly - is the survival of the game in England. They know how desperate the plight of the game is and they are to be applauded for trying to arrest the decline.
They have concluded - again, probably quite rightly - that the vehicle for recovery is T20. If they can get more people to see the game, they believe those people will fall in love with it. Again, they're right. It's still a great game. If we can expose more people to it, there's no reason they won't fall for its charms. It is ironic, though, that it was the ECB who put the sport behind a paywall and have kept it there - despite gathering evidence of the downsides - for more than decade.
So get used to losing in India. Because it's the price we're going to have to pay for our brave new world of T20 cricket. It's an avoidable scenario, but we don't seem to want it enough to make the changes required.