Newcastle United bowed out of the Premier League in meek fashion as a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa brought down the curtain on their 16-year stay in the top-flight.
Needing to better the result of fellow strugglers Hull City in their own game with Manchester United, the Magpies slipped to a miserable 17th league defeat of the season to head into the Championship alongside West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough.
To rub salt into the wounds, Damien Duff's own goal at Villa Park sealed their fate, as Alan Shearer failed in his mission to save his hometown club during the final eight games of the season.
Despair in the north-east was met with joy on Humberside as Hull City survived by the skin of their teeth despite losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson named a much-changed side with half an eye on next week's Champions League Final and it was one of his youngsters, Darron Gibson, who was on the mark at the KC Stadium.
But despite the defeat, the Tigers ultimately survived by one solitary point.
Newcastle's defeat also ensured that Sunderland survived despite their own final-day defeat.
Ricky Sbragia kept the Black Cats in the top-flight before resigning, with his last act a 3-2 defeat at Chelsea.
Nicolas Anelka's opener for Chelsea in the early stages of the second half took his tally to 19 Premier League goals this season.
It also ensured the Frenchman has win the Golden Boot award by just one goal from Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Middlesbrough's own outside chances of survival - they needed to win at West Ham and hope other results went in their favour - were ended by a 2-1 defeat.
In truth, the writing was largely on the wall for the Teessiders after winning just seven league games all season and Carlton Cole's opener for the Hammers increase the sense of doom and gloom among the travelling fans.
Gary O'Neil's 50th minute equaliser briefly raised hopes of a dramatic escape, but Boro's Championship fate was sealed eight minutes later when Junior Stanislas made it 2-1 to the home side.
Liverpool ensured they finished runners-up to Manchester United after recording a 3-1 victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Reds could have slipped to third behind Chelsea on the final day of the season, but a Fernando Torres first-half strike and Alan Hutton own goal after the interval moved the Anfield club onto 86 points and four behind champions United.
Robbie Keane, who started the season at Anfield but returned to Spurs after failing to persuade Reds boss Rafael Benitez of his talents, scored for the visitors, before Yossi Benayoun restored the two-goal advantage.
Arsenal rounded off their season in style after easing to a 4-1 win over Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners were 3-0 up inside 18 minutes after a James Beattie own goal, Robin van Persie penalty and strike from Abou Diaby.
Ricardo Fuller reduced the arrears for the Potters with a 31st minute penalty, but a second goal from van Persie on the stroke of half-time completed the scoring.
Everton warmed up for next weekend's FA Cup Final with a 2-0 win at Fulham. Two goals from Leon Osman's ensured the Toffees signed off another solid league season on a high.
Manchester City were 1-0 winners against Bolton Wanderers at Eastlands as Felipe Caicedo's eighth minute strike proved decisive.
Wigan Athletic ended an eight-match winless run after edging out Portsmouth 1-0 at the JJB Stadium.
Hugo Rodallega pounced in the 26th minute to settle a low-key end-of-season encounter.
Blackburn Rovers lost Jason Roberts to a second-half red card, but West Bromwich Albion were unable to take advantage and finish a season which has ended in relegation back to the Championship on a rare high note.
A scrappy encounter at Ewood Park ended in a goalless draw.