The signs were there as long ago as the week of the greatest triumph of the Warriors' single-season existence, their victory in January over eventual Heineken Cup winners Wasps in the pool stage at a wind- and rain-swept Wycombe. At the same time a merger was mooted between the Warriors and the Cardiff Blues. It was to be capsized by the opposition of the Cardiff Athletic Club, the largest shareholders in Cardiff, angered at the threat to a great, historic identity.
Yet the anger of the capacity crowd who gathered at the Brewery Field, Bridgend for the following Friday night's return with Wasps indicated local recognition that, whatever the merged entity might have been called, they would have been the losers as it decamped for the capital.
It was always known that David Moffett, chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and architect of the regional structure, wanted four teams rather than five and had only been thwarted by the insistence of Llanelli - who could argue that they had earned the right - and Cardiff - who could not, but did anyway - on retaining their seperate status. Little matter that newly-appointed national coach Mike Ruddock does not agree. Moffett, whose advantage over most Welsh rugby administrators is that he knows what he wants, was always likely to get his way at some point.
So he happily seized on the financial problems of the Warriors and a flaky ownership that never seemed quite sure what it wanted, but eventually wanted out, to attain his ideal model. The execution achieves several other short-term objectives, relieving the cash-straitened WRU of one drain on resources, possibly releasing extra money for the four survivors and also allowing Cardiff - for whose wants the WRU consistently shows a solicitude not extended to less prestigious but more successful clubs - into next year's Heineken Cup.
This must be weighed against the damage done. I must own up to always having been sceptical, to put it mildly, about the whole regional concept, an attempt to genetically engineer rugby success in the face of the logic of history and identity. Once, though, it had been adopted it was necessary to give the structure time, say five years, before attempting any further revision such as reverting to a club-based structure. Dumping a club after 12 months hardly suggests long-term strategic thinking.
So how does the project look otherwise? The ultimate test will be playing standards and here the evidence is not bad, but hardly conclusive. The Welsh quintet undoubtedly did better than expected in the Celtic League, winning five of the top six places in a competition won by Llanelli (the Warriors finished 4th). However, a fairer and more demanding test will come next year when Munster and Leinster are not depleted, to a greater extent than any of the Welsh teams, by World Cup calls.
The Heineken offers a fairer test. Here it was pretty much as you were - Llanelli were excellent in the pool stages, only to subside miserably in the quarters. Neath-Swansea and Cardiff weren't up to it, although Cardiff at least won a couple of games this year. Gwent Dragons were like Newport had been - tough at home, but no threat away from Rodney Parade.
There was one conspicuous improvement - the Celtic Warriors. They became the first Welsh team, other than Llanelli, to make a serious pitch for a playoff place in three seasons. Victories at Wasps and at home to Perpignan turned the two-horse race airily predicted by the French club's England wing Dan Luger into a three-way battle only settled by Wasps' magnificent win at Perpignan.
In terms of hearts and minds, convincing the Welsh rugby fan that this, rather than cherished club loyalties, are the way forward, there is still much to do. The Warriors ultimately foundered on the mismatch between large player salaries and crowds for most matches of around 3,000.
Their demise leaves the Welsh regional structure shaped like a set of dumb-bells - two concentrations at east and west, with not much in between. Pontypridd, which supported its town club more consistently than any other community over the past decade, Bridgend, an outstanding nursery for youth talent, and the valleys have been disenfranchised.
They will presumably be divided between the regions to east and west - respectively Cardiff and Neath-Swansea, much as their most desirable players will be. Coach Lyn Howells could find a resting place in Gwent, vacant again following Declan Kidney's decision to join Leinster rather than succeed Mike Ruddock. But sporting loyalties can not be purchased like the goodwill of a defunct business. They are far more a case of ill-will - in this case the distrust of Swansea and downright hostility to Cardiff that characterises relationships between the smaller communities of South Wales and its two dominant cities.
It is hard to escape the feeling that the four-team magic number has far more to do with the finances of the Welsh Rugby Union, and in particularly the debilitating costs associated with the Millennium Stadium, a disaster for Wales even if it has been a fine bolt-hole for English football, than any real vision of how it will revitalise playing standards.
Still, as the WRU and committed supporters of the regions will rightly remind us, the new structures should be given time. Too bad, then, that it was denied to the Celtic Warriors.