When this tri-series began, the stocks of the white-ball sides Eoin Morgan oversees were higher than ever. His as well, despite indifferent form with the bat. It is no small assignment showing up in Australia after an Ashes hiding to give the hosts a taste of their own as England did in the ODIs. But just two weeks on, Morgan's T20 charges narrowly avoided equalling their worst losing streak in the history of the format. And they couldn't even celebrate that, as only minutes earlier they were eliminated from the competition irrespective of the result of the game. The captain was angry and had every right to be.
"It didn't feel like a win," he said of the distinct lack of celebration when Tom Curran successfully defended 12 runs in the final over to notch England's first points in the tri-series from their final opportunity. "We had absolutely no right to be in the final. We played terribly."
It is instructive that when he was asked why there was such a gap in the success between the 50- and 20-over teams, Morgan couldn't put an immediate finger on it other than noting that they were "caught on the hop" in their two rubbers against Australia. England coach Trevor Bayliss padded out that thought on Sky, stating that it was "quite obvious" the locals had just bounced out of the Big Bash League.
Does that argument hold much water given how many England players were involved in the BBL themselves, as well as other winter tournaments? Probably not. But the fact that it is the best available response suggests some deeper thinking might be required when going through the entrails of the series in the debriefs upon their return to England in April.
The performance of Morgan's seamers in the bustle of the Powerplay overs will be a logical starting point. Discussing why they had been so harshly treated by Colin Munro in Hamilton, the captain pointed to the dew on the surface that made executing changes of pace redundant until the ball had got older. But it was inaccuracy, rather than the bag of tricks at the bowlers' disposal, that stood out in the quasi semi-final, David Willey especially wayward.
Of course, with only five legitimate bowlers in Morgan's arsenal, it drew the usual attention to the guy he didn't have: Ben Stokes. Only this time, the allrounder was watching on from the sidelines rather than on television having arrived in the country on Friday. During the first innings, he snuck out the back of the ground to have a bat in the nets, but other than that his duties continue to be very much of the light variety as he gets back up to speed ahead of a planned return in the ODIs.
When the format returns 50-over fare next week at the same ground, England will have not only Stokes available but also senior returning members of the squad including Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow. That will ensure a certain calm after this mess. Remember, too, that poor as the performances have been, it remains the case that this is the format where Morgan is far less likely to lead a truly full-strength team outside of a World T20.
This is where it gets tricky. England's game at Hamilton was the 100th time have played a T20 international since their first in 2005 - making them the fifth country to reach that mark. Even now, this England side are lucky to be assembled a few times a year, more often than not for fixtures tacked on after ODIs. Morgan wants more but, with Bayliss restating his view that T20Is should only be played in World T20 years, greater continuity in short-form national teams could be further away than ever. An appropriate end to a fortnight that has been far more about questions than answers.