David Moyes alluded to the scale of change likely at the Stadium of Light this summer long before relegation as confirmed.
With eleven players seeing deals expire before the future of those under contract into next season is even considered, turnover is coming regardless of the decision Moyes makes regarding his own future.
So who might actually stay for the Championship rebuild?
Likely to leave: Vito Mannone, Jordan Pickford
Likely to stay: Mika
Pickford’s departure will be galling so soon into his first team development, but with the Black Cats set to lose around £50 million in TV revenue it is difficult to see how they could keep him.
Mannone’s future is more uncertain, there has been much conjecture about a return to Italy, but he would be a more than capable Number One in the Championship.
At this stage, however, it looks likely that Sunderland will have to recruit a new first choice stopper, with Mika, who has a year left to run on his deal, unlikely to be seen as good enough to take that role.
Deals expiring: Jason Denayer, John O’Shea, Joleon Lescott, Javier Manquillo
Likely to leave: Lamine Kone
Likely to stay: Billy Jones, Bryan Oviedo, Donald Love, Papy Djilobodji
That Djilobodji could well be the only recognised centre-back still at the club come the end of the season will set alarm bells ringing and makes it seem more likely that John O’Shea will be offered an extension to his deal.
That, of course, depends on how big a wage commitment that would necessitate.
Either way, a 35-year-old surely cannot play 46 games in a season and so three new centre-backs could be required.
Sunderland may well be hoping that Djilobodji’s relatively successful campaign in Germany last season and five successful years in France sparks interest so that they can cut their losses.
Three full-backs gives Sunderland a base to build on in that department but more pace would be much welcomed.
Deals expiring: Steven Pienaar, Seb Larsson, Jan Kirchhoff, George Honeyman
Likely to stay: Darron Gibson, Paddy McNair
Ones to watch: Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell, Didier Ndong
The area of the field where perhaps the biggest question marks remain.
Cattermole seems likely to stay after his injury problems, but with plenty of interest in the past, it can’t be guaranteed.
Finding a bidder for Rodwell, who has struggled on a good contract for some time, could be difficult.
Ndong looks a player who could thrive in the Championship, but scouts will surely have been impressed by his performances in a poor side and might be eyeing a bargain.
Do Sunderland hold on and hope a valuable asset continues to grow in stature?
The Black Cats may well be tempted to offer Honeyman a new deal to bolster their squad.
Ultimately, a major injection of energy and intensity is required in this area of the field regardless of who stays or goes from the current crop.
Deals expiring: Victor Anichebe, Adnan Januzaj
Likely to leave: Jermain Defoe, Wahbi Khazri, Fabio Borini
Likely to stay: Duncan Watmore, Lynden Gooch
Defoe is a cert to leave, Fabio Borini likewise after a torrid campaign.
Wahbi Khazri’s revival is unlikely to prevent a summer exit, but the Black Cats will hope his current form can see them land a good chunk of their investment back.
Without Defoe they will clearly be badly short of goals in the squad and two players at least will be needed to carry that burden.
The radical changes and the prospect of a thinning squad could see Sunderland take a gamble on Anichebe’s fitness.
That could well be a decision that has much to do with the manager’s future.
YOUNGSTERS WHO COULD GRADUATE
Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, Max Stryjek, Rees Greenwood, Elliott Embleton, Ethan Robson.