India's tour of South Africa that ended with the ODI series rout on Sunday also marked a clean break from Virat Kohli's captaincy. Having first quit his T20 role, the announcement ending his Test leadership a day after the series was lost seemed like a bid to pre-empt a repeat of his removal as ODI skipper by the national selectors.
We have definitively arrived then, at the end of the Kohli era of leadership. It was immediately and starkly apparent in the ODI series. There was an Indian team used to more than five years of a high-decibel, high-swagger, full-tilt ahead form of leadership, suddenly hushed and subdued on the field. There was something unmistakably gloomy about it - even the usual TV camera following Kohli's every animated move dubbed the "Virat Cam", was missing.
India coach Rahul Dravid did not speak about the contrast in the body language of his players, but he may have been reminded of another trip to South Africa 15 years ago.
Dravid, having replaced Sourav Ganguly as skipper before that 2006 tour, led India to victory in the first Test at Johannesburg only for the hosts to come back to claim the series 2-1. India won at The Wanderers thank to S Sreesanth's eight-wicket haul. The combustible bowler, who was arguably the finest in terms of seam position in Indian cricket - Mohammed Shami owns that rare skill now - was going about his spell in the second Test at Durban.
Ganguly, always happy to be in focus and having led from the front till late 2005, tried to fire up Sreesanth by asking him to use verbals to unsettle the South African batters. Until Dravid stepped up to "Dada" and asked him to take a back seat and let the atmosphere be more serene.
Kohli and Ganguly, in a sense, are kindred spirits, even though their opposing statements lit up the controversy over captaincy that overshadowed the South Africa tour. Kohli is more in-your-face than Ganguly ever was, though he switched off during the ODI series.
Optics over aggressive body language was a vital aspect of Kohli's captaincy. With designated skipper Rohit Sharma not on the tour due to injury, stand-in KL Rahul was extremely muted on the field. Kohli, usually so animated and in the middle of every celebratory huddle, stayed on the periphery in the ODIs. His rant into the stump mic during the Cape Town Test seemed like it belonged to a distant past. The only time Kohli smiled was after getting his 50 in the final ODI, making the cradling motion in celebration to wife Anushka Sharma and daughter Vamika in her arms.
Only wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant's encouragement could be heard during the games played behind closed doors. Indian bowlers could have done with some more invigorating words during their struggles against the SA batters. Pant, hailed for his batting, was himself in need of some reassurance or inspiration after some howlers behind the stumps.
R Ashwin suffered twice - in the first ODI, Pant failed to take a knee-high nick by Rassie van der Dussen when he was on 13. He ended up with an unbeaten 126. In the second game, Pant muffed an elbow-high take to stump Quinton de Kock on 32, and he scored a crucial 78.
Kohli was not expected to step in with advice considering that he had been removed as captain. Rahul, already being spoken off as a Test captaincy candidate seemed under pressure, failing with the bat and repeating his lines after every defeat.
India may analyse whether the subdued body language contributed to the flat performances or whether the defeats compounded the silence on the field. Too much noise only distracted the team in the Cape Town Test, but India can't afford to switch off a template that gave the team identity and success.
New coach Dravid's approach is starkly different from predecessor Ravi Shastri's football manager-style exhortations, victory or defeat.
"India were favourites from day one not only in Test matches but also in the ODIs," former off-spinner and national selector Sarandeep Singh told ANI. "If you see Virat Kohli's captaincy he was energetic and pumped up. In the same way, the team used to play as all the players were pumped up, but now what I feel sitting outside is somehow the Indian team is missing that spark."
India's next assignments, starting with the limited-overs series against West Indies next month, are at home. There they will be favourites in any format without having to engage in verbals.