The development squad was hatched at City in the summer accompanied by much hype and fanfare.

But there is not so much as a blast of the Last Post to signal its passing.

Luke O’Brien’s departure from the club where he had spent two thirds of his life quite rightly grabbed the local limelight on deadline day.

There were no similar headlines accompanying Nialle Rodney and Patrick Lacey through the exit door.

They were the latest casualties in the cull of the flabby fringes of a senior squad that is becoming unrecognisable from the Bank Holiday Monday at the end of August when Phil Parkinson walked in.

They were also concrete proof that the development model has been quietly consigned to City’s past. Another grand idea to add to the pile.

But that was inevitable from the moment that Archie Christie suddenly walked out. This was his baby.

It was his master plan to follow the success of his previous club Dagenham.

In truth, it was more a copy of the European system practised nearly everywhere on the continent from Basle to Barcelona.

After the boom and bust spending of recent years, the City board wanted to lay more solid foundations built on stone rather than sand.

By creating an elite group to help bridge the gap from youth to first teams, it was hoped that there would be a base of future players already in place regardless of who was in the hot-seat at the time.

Change at the top would not necessarily mean wholesale change through the club.

Many felt that it was long overdue following the turbulence of the past decade or so. City, regularly criticised for only concentrating on the here and now, were finally looking towards the bigger picture.

But this gradual, long-term approach is at odds with the club’s lowly situation on the league ladder.

What might have worked well at an established Championship side seems wildly at odds with one still looking over their shoulder at the prospect of dropping into non-league oblivion.

Why look too far into the future when the present is still so precarious?

For a club’s whose only priority should be climbing out of the basement division, it looked a case of trying to run before they could walk.

That’s how Parkinson saw it when he came in, and he wasn’t the only one. Michael Flynn, the skipper, soon publicly questioned the wisdom of putting money into something that might never bear fruit when it could have been diverted towards strengthening where it matters.

It is understandable if Parkinson has been reluctant to inherit a long-term project that was not of his own making, particularly when there was no guarantee of success at the end of it.

Rodney enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame with the winning penalty in the JPT shoot-out win at Huddersfield. But someone who, I have been told, was on very good money considering his lack of experience, showed no signs of breaking through.

The others were shipped out to various part-time destinations on loan for toughening up but returned no nearer to stepping up. They were deemed not ready.

The university for up-and-coming youngsters, as Christie described his squad, seems no longer worth the tuition fees in City’s eyes.

When Christie flew out the door in November, its days were numbered. The decision not to replace Wayne Allison, whose job title was coach for that specific group, underlined the point.

So what has happened with the players themselves?

Scott Brown, hailed as the next wonder-kid by Christie, and Andrew Burns are the two survivors from those brought in during the first week of pre-season.

Burns remains the only one of the bunch not to be sent out on loan and regularly skippers the reserves.

Brown, like most 17-year-olds, trains and plays with the youth team.

Dean Overson joined at the end of the transfer window and has appeared with the second string alongside Burns.

Darren Stephenson, given a contract after progressing through the ranks, has just gone on loan in the Evo-Stik League. Luke Dean is part of Parkinson’s senior squad and flits between the League Two bench and the Central League.

Zippy winger Dominic Rowe remains on the fringes, though he was classed as “first-team ready” when he was given his deal. But then the difference between development and first-year senior was a blurred one.

Not any longer. The clear lines of definition have returned.

The in-between set-up to turn these boys into men has become redundant.