They may go down in Australian political history as misguided heroes.
After the challenge that wasn't, when Premier Julia Gillard threw open the leadership of her party, the Australian Labor Party and with it, the prime minister's job, there were always going to be losers.
But with five senior and three junior members of the prime minister's government having resigned their posts, her cabinet has lost decades of experience. One more resignation is expected shortly.
A day earlier, Gillard caved in to intense pressure and speculation over her leadership and called a vote of the parliamentary party.
It was widely anticipated that her political nemesis, Kevin Rudd, would challenge her for the job. But he refused to do so. Gillard toppled Rudd as prime minister in 2010. Since then, the displeasure of Rudd and his supporters has severely destabilized the ALP.
Unpopular within the party ranks, Rudd is hugely popular among ordinary Australians. Since his ousting, he has been consistently preferred as leader in opinion polls.
But Australia's first female prime minister has now twice seen off a challenge, even if one did not even make it to a vote. The first in February, 2012 was an outright win against Rudd. Having promised last year he would not challenge, Rudd refused to stand against her saying he was sticking to his promise. He has since confirmed he was unable to garner enough support for a successful challenge.
Today, in a trademark third person reference on his personal website, Rudd called on his supporters to accept he would never again lead the Labor Party.
"Furthermore, Mr. Rudd wishes to make 100% clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party, including his own supporters, that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future."
Gillard said Rudd's statement reflected reality.
Since the bizarre leadership ballot, those who supported Rudd worry even the tough minded, determined prime minister. Four of them are very high profile, experienced members who have long held ministerial positions.
Chris Bowen, the one time immigration minister and former tertiary education minister is amongst them. Like the former resources minister Martin Ferguson and former human services minister, Senator Kim Carr, both of whom have also resigned, Bowen had supported Rudd.
Simon Crean, the highly respected former ALP leader and former minister for the arts and regional Australia was sacked after calling on the prime minister to throw her job open.
Crean looked a forlorn figure on the parliamentary backbench yesterday, which he has not occupied in 22 years. Parliamentary secretary Richard Marles and two junior parliamentary whips, Janelle Saffin and Ed Husic are also gone.
Rudd's friend and chief numbers man, chief parliamentary whiff Joel Fitzgibbon, has said he will take time to consider his position.
All had expressed no confidence in the prime minister's ability to win the election slated for September 14.
In the meantime, the man who they all supported says he will remain in the parliament. Crean has expressed his disappointment that Rudd failed to challenge, having opened the door for him.
"He had an obligation," said Crean.
"I wouldn't cast it other than that. He should have done the right thing. There's a right way and a wrong way. He took the wrong way," he said.
Meanwhile, Rudd emerged today to say that had he challenged, he would have split the Labor Party down the middle.
He praised those who had fallen on their swords, singling out Bowen as a possible future leader.
"We are judged by whether we honor our word and for me this is a matter of deep conscience.
"Its time for the ALP to unite under Prime Minister Gillard, totally. It is time for us to confront a significant threat to our nations future and interest and that is (opposition leader) Tony Abbott.
"For myself, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard has my 100% support," he said.
Senator Carr confirmed the numbers were very close but in the end, not there for a Rudd victory. Ten lawmakers expected to follow Crean and move to Rudd's side failed to do so.