Valentino Rossi will bring the curtain down on a disappointing partnership with Ducati at this weekend's Valencia season finale.
When the seven time MotoGP
champion switched to Ducati at the end of 2010, it was the dream deal Italy had been waiting for since the factory's 2003 debut.
Rossi, who had won two races for Yamaha either side of a broken leg during 2010, was also inheriting a bike that had claimed three wins (from nine podiums) in the hands of Casey Stoner
Even the most pessimistic predicated that Rossi would fight for occasional race wins with the Ducati.
The reality has been significantly lower, with Rossi - who had never failed to win less than two races in a premier-class season - managing only occasional podiums (three) during his 34 races and not a single front-row start.
But the most baffling aspect has been the lack of linear progress.
Even die-hard Rossi fans were braced for a low starting point at Ducati, after seeing other proven winners struggle on the Desmosedici, but expected The Doctor and his crew to steadily refine and improve the package, clawing their way closer to the top.
Changes to almost every aspect of the Desmosedici have been made since 2010, but on-track progress has been sporadic - almost random - and the fundamental issues Rossi felt from the very first test, to do with the front end, never fully solved.
Stoner took 23 race wins and a world title for Ducati between 2007-2010, but Rossi was unable to adapt his previously all-conquering riding style in the same way.
Rossi's only consolation during his two seasons in red is that he has been the highest ranking of the Ducati riders - seventh in 2011 being followed by sixth (and a chance of fifth) heading into this Sunday's finale.
Rossi's pre-Valencia comments, as distributed by Ducati, made no direct reference to it being his last race for the team:
“Valencia definitely isn't one of my favourite circuits, apart from the fact that it's in Spain, which always has a great atmosphere.