The announcement of Alex Ferguson's retirement came as a huge surprise to the world of football.
But even as fans' tears were flowing, some were already beginning to question the timing of the announcement: has the legendary Manchester United manager had his hand forced early in order to get Jose Mourinho in as his successor?
Ferguson has openly talked about his retirement for some years now, though for as long as anyone can remember he has referred to it as being two or three years away.
Yet the time has now come - and the game is reeling. But what about the timing?
Is it simply a case of Ferguson retiring now in order to say goodbye to the fans at Manchester United's final home game of the season on Sunday?
Or is there something else at work?
The fact is that there are just two prime candidates for the job - Jose Mourinho and David Moyes - and both are looking for new jobs at the moment.
Mourinho has had a turbulent season at Real Madrid, enduring a tough time with club chiefs, his players - including iconic club skipper Iker Casillas - and fans.
Real have reportedly agreed to release him from his contract a year early this summer, leading many to assume that the Portuguese boss will return to manager-less Chelsea.
Yet Wednesday's Times reports that Mourinho's contract negotiations with the Blues have hit the skids, leading to another possibility: has Ferguson retired so as to ensure that Mourinho will follow him?
Mourinho would be the only possible replacement who would boost United's share price, and he and Ferguson have always had a warm relationship, built mainly on their habit of sharing a decent bottle of claret in the manager's office after their sides have clashed.
There's no doubt that Mourinho is a heavy-hitter who is one of the few men to have managed a club on a similar level, and United's shareholdees will love that.
Yet even if Mourinho is indeed bound for Stamford Bridge, it seems Ferguson's hand might have been forced to ensure United get first dibs on another prime contender: Everton manager Moyes.
Media reports coming out of Old Trafford on Wednesday morning suggested that Moyes is in pole position to take over since he is "cut from the same cloth" as Ferguson, and would be a man who could respect the club's traditions and take it forward in the correct manner.
Moyes is out of contract at Everton in the summer, and with a stellar reputation after years of superb work at Everton he will have his pick of jobs in the game.
So has Ferguson made way for Mourinho or Moyes?
It seems insane to even suggest that the tail could be wagging the dog in such a huge decision. After all, if Ferguson hasn't earned the right to leave on his own terms, then who has?
But Fergie will remember only too well the fate of other hugely successful managers who hung on too long - chief among them Brian Clough, whose name was a byword for managerial brilliance for over two decades, but ultimately presided over Nottingham Forest's relegation from the top flight.
There could be no would fate for a man as proud as Fergie. The Scot would hate to see his reputation tarnished, so going out on a high - as Premier League champion - is only natural.
But there's more than that. We're talking about a man who knows his place in history, and thrives on it. Why else would he continue for so long, long after he needed to, if not to set unbreakable records? He has his statue on display at the ground, and his name above one of the stands at Old Trafford.
And so Ferguson will not want his final team to turn sour as soon as he leaves. He will want a successor so good that they will defend the Premier League title as easily as they have won it this season, so easily in fact that the new man in the role sees their own achievement written off as simply a function of having inherited a winning team.
Managers of the calibre of Mourinho and Moyes simply don't become available all that often - and Ferguson wouldn't trust his club to anyone who wasn't in that league.
Whoever comes to replace Ferguson, one thing seems certain: we won't have long to wait to find out who it is. An announcement about a new manager is expected very soon - if nothing else, the club must show that they have a clear succession in place for the benefit of the speculators on the New York Stock Exchange. One report has claimed that the identity of the new boss is already known, but that he is yet to give notice to leave his current job.
As for the successor's chances of success? Filling the biggest shoes in football would be a nightmarish task in many ways, but given the huge resources that the new manager will have at his disposal it could be a ticket to untold glory.
There's no doubt that there is a lot of work to do, however. United have looked distinctly ragged this season despite their runaway title success, and particularly in the midfield there's a huge amount of work needed.
The new manager - whether it is Mourinho or Moyes - will want, and need, to get going as soon as humanly possible.
Ferguson will know that as well as anyone. It seems that this could be his last act of devotion to Manchester United: stepping aside at the perfect moment to make sure that the club he built is left in the best possible hands.