They should have been sitting alongside manager Martin O'Neill on the top table, feted as the guests of honour.
Villa's owner, Randy Lerner, and the club's chief executive, Paul Faulkner, are charged with shaping the destiny of the club. But their absence from the gala evening, at which 500 supporters came to pay tribute to a campaign with an all-too familiar finale, spoke volumes.
Waving goodbye: question marks have been raised over the future of Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa
In the end, it was left to a disgruntled supporter to ask the $64,000 question from the floor after the Irishman had taken the microphone.
'Are you staying Martin, or not?' boomed a Brummie voice.
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