Hearts’ decision to let experienced midfielder Ian Black leave the club is the latest indication of the direction the financially troubled club is going in.
After four delays to wage payments this season and a statement from majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov that appeared to confirm he is no longer willing to subsidise Scotland third biggest wage bill, the trickle of players departing Gorgie may be about to become a torrent.
Six first team players have left Tynecastle since the club’s wage woes began in October, now two more have been confirmed as leaving, as well as a handful of youngsters.
With a stated aim of maintaining just 40 players for 2012/13 - reduced from 53 this year - the indicators point to an even more youthful Hearts side lining up for their next campaign.
Out the door permanently have gone Eggert Jonsson (Wolves), Ryan Stevenson (Ipswich), Janos Balogh (Spartacus), Calum Elliot (Zalgiris) and Marian Kello and Kevin Kyle (free). John Sutton was sent out on loan (Central Coast Mariners).
David Obua and Ian Black will not be given contract extensions and academy graduates Matthew Park, Chris Tobin, Ryan Stewart, Colin Hamilton and Aaron Murdoch are all looking for new clubs.
While question marks remain over the future of Paulo Sergio and his backroom staff, who are out on contract in the summer, the club has restructured the football side of the business. John Murray, the academy director, is now also director of football, while under-19s coach Darren Murray becomes player development manager.
In an interview with the Hearts Youth Development Committee this week, Darren Murray revealed the club intends to foster a squad of 24 first team names and 16 players for the Under-20s.
Hearts have nine players free to leave after the Scottish Cup final on May 19 – Craig Beattie, Rudi Skacel, Suso Santana, Stephen Elliott, Gary Glen, Jason and Danny Thomson, Jonathan Stewart and Jordan Morton. Allowing all of these players to depart would leave 21 names on the manager’s list.
That squad includes a lot of inexperience. Jason Holt, Denis Prychynenko, Dave Smith and Jason Walker have less than a dozen SPL games between them. Arvydas Novikovas and Gordon Smith have been unable to nail down places in the first team while the futures of Australia loanees Sutton and Dylan McGowan are unclear.
That is not to mention that the club will be open to reasonable offers on its most saleable assets - Marius Zaliukas, David Templeton and Andy Driver.
While the cash problems of the Edinburgh side are not news to fans, the revelation that Player of the Year contender Black is not in their plans would have taken many by surprise.
A youthful dawn is breaking over the west of the capital. The question will be whether a club with annual ambitions of third place and runs in the cup competitions will be able to remove that weight of expectation from such young shoulders.