Manchester United must move quickly to appoint a new manager and give him maximum time to operate in what will be a critical transfer window for the club.
A season of abject failure under David Moyes brought a swift end to the former Everton manager's reign at Old Trafford and United must act equally decisively to install the right man to try to revive their fortunes.
Bringing in at least four top internationals and moving out ageing players and serial underperformers will not be easy.
The United defence needs a complete overhaul.
Centre backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were key players in United's success under Alex Ferguson. But Vidic is joining Inter Milan and Ferdinand, 35, is long past his sell-by date.
French left back Patrice Evra has given sterling service in eight years, but he too should be allowed to leave along with firebrand Brazilian right back Rafael, a talented attacking player, but defensive liability.
Then there is the midfield, for so long a major strength of United sides under Ferguson with the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs contributing so much in their contrasting styles.
Moyes had to rely on the experienced, but one-paced Michael Carrick as his central linchpin and the acquisition of the skilful and creative Juan Mata failed to address United's glaring issue in the centre - a lack of speed.
Darren Fletcher is a disciplined and solid defender, but his lack of creativity will always be exposed at the highest level, while Tom Cleverley has failed to show the quality required.
The signing of Marouane Fellaini from Moyes' former club Everton, a panic buy for £27 million (HK$352 million) at the end of the preseason transfer window, will go down in history as a microcosm of the manager's doomed stay.
The lanky long-haired midfielder has looked like a fish out of water at United, failing to score a goal and frequently lumbering ineffectively around the centre of the pitch.
He must be moved on along with Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa who has had limited chances to prove his worth, but looks too similar to Mata to be accommodated in the same team.
Moyes rarely played with two wingers, a cornerstone of Ferguson's success, but the emergence of 19-year-old Adnan Januzaj was a beacon of hope in a depressing season.
The highly inconsistent Ashley Young and Nani must also be moved on, though pacy and disciplined right winger Antonio Valencia may have a future at Old Trafford.
Perhaps Moyes' best achievement at United was persuading England striker Wayne Rooney to stay, whose form has been consistently good in a hard season.
The same cannot be said of Robin van Persie, whose 26 league goals fired United to the title 12 months ago in Ferguson's last season in charge.
The Dutch striker has been a peripheral figure, plagued by the injuries, which afflicted him at former club Arsenal and unhappy at playing in a losing team.
England forward Danny Welbeck has shown flashes of his ability, but the Manchester-born 23-year-old hinted last week that he was unhappy at Old Trafford and he could also leave.
One plus has been the reliability of young Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea and he will stay at United, a player along with Rooney, Januzaj, Mata and young defenders Phil Jones and Jonny Evans for the new manager to build a team around.
United have been linked with Bayern Munich's Toni Kroos, Paris St Germain striker Edinson Cavani and young Southampton left back Luke Shaw, who are reportedly on the club's radar.