Melbourne City have parted ways with coach Warren Joyce and will continue their long battle to realise their A-League ambitions without the Englishman, after declining to extend his two-year stint as senior coach.
Joyce leaves City after a tumultuous season; one of on-field underachievement given the club's alignment with Premier League giants Manchester City and the deep pockets of their Abu Dhabi-based owners.
The club's 2018-19 campaign ended brutally on Sunday as Adelaide United's Ben Halloran scored an 119th minute extra-time winner in their elimination final.
City's fifth-placed finish came after a brighter third-placed result in his first season.
After the match, Joyce denied his second season was a regression but City bosses disagreed, and will now start the search for his successor.
"It's been a challenging couple of seasons, but I have great pride in the players and staff for the progress the club has made," Joyce said in a statement.
"I've seen real growth from the playing group and within the football organisation and the continued development of the right kind of culture.
"I am confident that A-League success is around the corner."
Joyce's chief remit was always results -- with a goal of reaching the AFC Champions League -- but he was also tasked with cultural change in the dressing room.
The 54-year-old installed a hard-working, team-first ethos at the club, at significant cost.
City's player turnover was significant; Luke Brattan was the only player in Sunday's elimination final loss to have played under a different coach at the club.
Fans voted with their feet.
Crowds were down amid the player losses and a less exciting style of play, with the club's active supporter group disbanding.
More players will depart in the coming days, with Brattan, star defender Bart Schenkeveld off-contract, player of the year Eugene Galekovic likely to retire and Riley McGree set to return to his Belgian parent club, Club Brugge.
City football boss Michael Petrillo will lead a review of Joyce's time in charge along with City Football Group executive Brian Marwood.
Petrillo said the club's long-running goal of reaching the AFC Champions League "remained unchanged."
"We want to be constantly competing for silverware and playing in the Asian Champions League, with a definitive brand of football," he said.
City chief executive Brad Rowse said Joyce's efforts promoting young talent would long be remembered at the club.
"Under his stewardship a significant number of young players have made the transition to first team football and many have been recognised with national team selection," he said.