There may not be much honour in football these days but it is hardly the gravest deficiency.
This much, at least, sails unequivocally from the pages of Alex Ferguson's presumably last and certainly most hugely hyped autobiography.
His evisceration of his most influential player, Roy Keane, is the essentially soulless reminder – if one was necessary – that the game is about loyalty only as long as it works for you.
No one who had any understanding of the great manager's style, or the dynamics of his relationship with the indefatigably self-programmed man from Cork, could have had any doubts that the savaging was pre-ordained before the ink dried on the book contract.
Of all Keane's sins, the greatest was that he grew old and wounded in the way of all players, and when this happened, when he could no longer lift a team single-handedly as he did so unforgettably in Turin as he rallied Manchester United to their historic appearance in the 1999 Champions League final, he was suddenly alone in all his competitive arrogance.
The ensuing collision between manager and player, the leader of Old Trafford and his alter ego, was inevitable from the moment it was clear that the years, and some serious injury, had reduced Keane to the status of a marginal combatant.
Everyone knew this except, it seemed, Keane himself. The rage he brought to the field, which under-pinned so much of Ferguson's achievement, could not be dissipa-ted by any understanding that he was in the terrain that sooner or later comes to all football flesh.
When he could do it on the field Keane was far more than the manager's enforcer of will and ambition. He was an extension of his personality, both a ramrod and an articulator of some of his deepest beliefs about how a footballer should tackle the job.
Yet none of this meant anything when he couldn't answer the question that lurks on every manager's lips, the one that asks: "What are you going do to for me today?"
All Keane could offer, in the end, was that anger for the failing light and of all the criticisms by Ferguson the one that resonated most strongly yesterday was his declaration: "He thought he was Peter Pan. No one is. The hardest part of Roy's body is his tongue. It was frightening to watch. And I'm from Glasgow."
In the normal course of events a relationship once so embedded in achievement and a deep appreciation of each other's strengths might, to some extent at least, have been restored.
It was at Liverpool when another great Scottish manager, Bill Shankly, fell out with one of his greatest players, Ian St John. St John, feisty enough but certainly more temperate than Keane, complained bitterly about the treatment he received in his waning years at Anfield, but he acknowledged that Shankly had never found it easy to discard a key player. He had to make a fight. In the case of Keane, there was little need for encouragement.
He did not, of course, go quietly. He raged at the attitude of young United players and what he consid-ered to be their complacency, and when he left he could not see that it was not some novel brutalising of the finer feelings of a great performer.
He did the unthinkable and said the unsayable and, we learned yesterday, the unforgivable.
He accused Ferguson of hypocrisy. He charged him with saying one thing and doing another, and not least when he, according to Keane, risked destabilising United by taking legal action against the club's leading shareholder John Magnier over his right to stud fees for the horse Rock of Gibraltar.
"People say Ferguson always does what is right for the club but I don't think he does," said Keane. "The manager going to law against the leading shareholder did not help the club. How could that help the club? How could it be of benefit to United? I think he does what is right for him."
There was no stemming of the bitterness when he went to Celtic, a husk of arguably the most committed player the Premier League would ever know, and no memory of the time when Ferguson would defend him against critics, and once drove to the police station to retrieve him from a cell after one turbulent night in the centre of Manchester. But that, of course, was when Keane was plainly worth the trouble.
"People say he stood by me in difficult times," Keane also said, "but not when I was 34, not when I was coming to near the end. All of a sudden, it was, 'Off you go, Roy'."
We have to wonder now quite what he expected. Yesterday, though, there was surely an answer to that old question about what he could do for his manager today. He could, as one last service, sell a few books.
James Lawton is the author of a biography of Manchester United player Bobby Charlton.