Beaten by sibling in a race he had fought all his life to win
David Miliband was the golden boy of New Labour for so long it began to seem inevitable he would one day lead the party.
His announcement yesterday that he is stepping back from frontline politics robs Labour of one of its biggest talents and weakens the Blairite presence in a party that has already made a shift to the left with his brother Ed's election as leader.
But with his political background as the son of Marxist intellectual, Ralph Miliband, it is unlikely that David will disappear from the fray altogether. Already, he is being mentioned in connection with the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund. This could plunge him into yet another internecine battle, as Gordon Brown is also believed to be interested in the job.
And a second tilt at the Labour leadership cannot be entirely ruled out. David remains MP for South Shields, Tyne and Wear, and, at the age of just 45, he could be in contention to succeed his brother in five years' time if Ed fails in his ambition to return Labour to power.
Throughout the leadership campaign, Ed made clear that he would be happy to take a shadow Cabinet position if he did not win; while David was much more circumspect about taking a junior role to his younger brother.
Yesterday's decision confirms the bitterness of the blow of being outstripped by his sibling in a race he had prepared all his adult life to win.
Four years his junior, Ed followed David into a philosophy, politics and economics degree at Oxford University; the Labour Party; a senior backroom job as adviser to Tony Blair's government; the House of Commons as an MP -- and finally into the Cabinet.