A prime minister left isolated in a place and at a moment where she badly needed some friends.
At the very least, here in Salzburg, Theresa May needed a helping hand from fellow EU leaders as she enters some treacherous domestic political waters.
And yet, having talked up confidence in a deal and a compromise, the UK’s ally in brokering one – European Council president Donald Tusk – emerged from private talks of EU27 leaders and applied what appeared a fatal blow to her Chequers plan.
“We all agreed Chequers proposals for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it will undermine the single market,” Mr Tusk said of her plans for a common rulebook and facilitated customs arrangement to allow frictionless post-Brexit trade and new free trade deals.
At precisely the same moment in a neighbouring room, with “no-deal” risks rising, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made this extraordinary assessment about UK preparedness.
“I think we have made more preparations for no-deal than the UK,” he said, responding to questions about the preparedness of his country’s airports after Wednesday’s leak to Sky News.
Aides scrambled to lower the temperature of the sweltering summit by urgently procuring a giant Dyson cooling machine for Mrs May’s news conference. A Brexit fan.
Mr Tusk and the prime minister had just had a robust conversation. He’d held back on firmly announcing a special EU summit in November to finalise a Brexit deal.
A rattled Mrs May announced her meeting with Mr Tusk had been “frank”, before not quite being able to explain how the European Council president hadn’t removed the plug from the Chequers life support machine.
Her aides say these were the words of a defiant Mrs May – denying Sky News’ suggestion this was “falling apart”.
“Look, I’ve always said that these negotiations are going to be tough and at various stages of these negotiations different tactics would be used as part of those negotiations,” the prime minister said.
“The proposal we have put forward is the only proposal on the table that actually delivers on that long-term sustainable future by offering the free and frictionless movement of goods across borders… so if there are concerns from the EU, let’s hear what those concerns are, sit down and look at those concerns.
“But what we need to ensure that at the end of the day the deal that comes out of this, is one that delivers for the British people.”
It certainly sparked memories of Mrs May’s famous election claim that “nothing has changed” – but something here has.
The problem may stem back to an early meeting on Thursday morning with Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar, with Irish sources briefing that Mrs May had told him it was impossible to get a solution to the Irish border issue by next month.
The EU is now making a concerted effort to get that date on track.
Mr Varadkar denied the suggestion he and the EU27 had hung Mrs May out to dry ahead of the Conservative Party conference later this month. He tried to play down the risk of an “accidental no deal”.
But Mr Varadkar spent most of the day stressing Ireland had made the necessary investment and preparations for a no-deal Brexit that would hit his country’s economy hard.
He, alongside EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and French president Emmanuel Macron, are the “bad cops” in this Brexit negotiation and they won the day here – but at what price?
Salzburg did not go to plan for Mrs May.
The EU27 has left her with no domestic cover. They were supposed to keep Chequers sufficiently alive to help sell her proposals to a sceptical Tory party.
The negotiations go on – but an important part of them now is a dangerous cross-continental game of no-deal chicken.
After spending two days suggesting to several EU leaders directly that they are not ready for no-deal – and having a piece of compelling evidence for that in the form of a leaked notice from their airports sector – I can only conclude that they are utterly confident that no-deal will be terrible for the UK and only merely awkward for them.
And some nations such as the Netherlands and Ireland are incredulous that they are more prepared for no-deal, a stated possible consequence of UK policy, than the UK itself.
There is nothing the UK could do to dissuade the EU27 from this fundamental judgement about who will be damaged.
They are showing now that they think, in the Brexit parlance, that they hold all the cards.
So, it’s so-long from the city famous for the “Sound of Music” for Mrs May, as well as farewell and auf wiedersehen from EU leaders to her Chequers plan.
And for many in her party, it’s goodbye to a Brexit deal, and perhaps her premiership too.