Rugby World Cup: Scars of Stuart Lancaster's humiliating defeats 'will never heal'
Stuart Lancaster fears he will forever bear the scars of having presided over England's worst World Cup performance
It has taken only 16 days for a tournament launched amid high expectation to be reduced to rubble for the hosts by successive defeats by Wales and Australia, who between them amassed 61 points at Twickenham.
England will be absent from the knock-out phase for the first time and are the only host nation to have failed to advance from their group.
The Rugby Football Union will launch an inquest once the World Cup is over. Lancaster, his assistants and RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie now face uncertain futures. According to Lancaster, each of them will be tainted by English rugby's darkest hour.
"I'm the head coach and we didn't get out of the pool. This is going to sit with us all forever - players, coaches, management," Lancaster said. "I don't think I'll ever come to terms with it personally because it was such a big thing. We lost two games, but they were crucial games and ultimately that let us down."
Ritchie appointed Lancaster and 12 months ago awarded him and his lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt new contracts expiring in 2020, despite the failure to win any silverware of note.
The futures of Ritchie and Lancaster are entwined, although it would take the former to fall on his sword if he is to depart after he revealed he would be the highest authority on the review. "Of course we both accept responsibility for what happened, but part of that responsibility is facing up to 'What do we do to move on, how do we do that?'," Ritchie said. "We all get the significance of this defeat, but in the last three-and-a-half years there have been a lot of things that have been positive.
"I'm not minimising in any way what happened in terms of those games against Wales and Australia, but you need some calm thinking and reflection."
Players will also be asked to contribute their thoughts to the investigation and while Lancaster viewed as an honourable man, it is understood there has been disquiet over Farrell's influence in selection and tactics.
Lancaster, meanwhile, has admitted he will consider resigning after the humiliating exit. When asked if he would reconsider his position, Lancaster, who at times appeared close to tears, said: "I think I've got to. It's not just going to be my decision.
"It's not the time now to make a decision like that. We've still got another week to go.
"My priority is to get the team ready for Uruguay.