With the dust barely settled following the announcement of their relegation on Saturday, the on-field action seemed almost secondary as Saracens booked their place in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals with victory over Racing 92.

In a match replicating the drama of the 24 hours that had preceded it, the defending European champions overcame Racing 92 27-24 despite losing Billy Vunipola to injury, having Will Skelton sent off, and trailing at half-time.

But, in a determined fightback, two tries from Maro Itoje, as well as a score from Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell’s late penalty booked Mark McCall’s side a date with Leinster in the last eight.

However, it was far from the most pressing thing on the mind for the club during a weekend in which it was announced that they would be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season for persistent salary cap breaches.

The news came amidst a season in which Saracens were already bottom of the top flight after being deducted 35 points and fined £5.4m for three seasons of spending above the cap, and McCall now admits his all-conquering side will have to be broken up following the momentous news.

“This is the end of that era that dates back to 2009,” said McCall.

“There's no doubt the bunch of players we've got in our squad now aren't going to be the same bunch of players we have in the Championship next year.

“We have got some time to plan for a new era, a new journey, and that is the optimistic way of looking at it.

“Clearly the club have made some mistakes, and big mistakes, and they have been rightly punished for those mistakes.”

Over the past decade Saracens had become one of the dominant forces in European club rugby, winning five Premiership titles and three European crowns, and their demise is surely one of the biggest stories in the history of the sport.

The future of the great numbers of international stars at the club is now in jeopardy after Saracens received an additional sanction, having failed to prove immediate compliance with the salary cap.

McCall’s men are obliged to complete this season’s remaining fixtures but will drop to the Championship next campaign, hardly ideal preparation for the international scene and looming British & Irish Lions tour in 2021.

In a statement from Premiership Rugby on Saturday, chief executive Darren Childs said: “Premiership Rugby is prepared to take strong action to enforce the regulations governing fair competition between our clubs.

“At the conclusion of dialogue with Saracens about their compliance with the Salary Cap Regulations, it has been decided that Saracens will be relegated at the end of this season.

“At the same time as enforcing the existing regulations, we want to ensure a level playing field for all clubs in the future, which is why we have asked Lord Myners to carry out an independently-led review of the Salary Cap.

“As part of this process, we will soon be announcing an open consultation so that everyone involved in the game has the opportunity to contribute to its future.

“The actions that we have taken – dealing with breaches of the current regulations and reviewing the system for the future – will help us to build a stronger league and uphold the confidence of supporters.”