Phil Brown's bid to save Preston from relegation ended in failure as Cardiff claimed a 1-0 win at Deepdale to maintain their hopes of winning automatic promotion from the npower Championship.
Bluebirds midfielder Peter Whittingham fired home a low cross from Craig Bellamy in the sixth minute of a first half that the visitors dominated.
With Crystal Palace beating Leeds by the same scoreline at Selhurst Park, Preston knew they needed a major turnaround in the second half of both games.
Sadly for Brown it did not happen and Preston were condemned to a return to the third tier of English football for the first time since 2000.
Brown, 51, arrived at the famous old Lancashire outfit in January, tasked with keeping them in the second tier but it took him 13 games to register a win and, despite an impressive rally in recent weeks, it was not enough.
The result marked Preston's first relegation in 18 years but the visiting supporters could not care a jot as they celebrated a vital victory which would have been far more comfortable but for some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Preston's Iain Turner.