Trailing 11-5 heading into the final day's singles, Europe registered just three individual wins – with experienced trio Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood all scoring their first points of the week.

"The toughest bit about all of this is this is going to be hard because Paddy will be questioned and that is not fair," Poulter told Sky Sports.

"He has done a great job but we have been outplayed."

McIlroy's most difficult week at the Ryder Cup – one of his most difficult weeks in golf – came to a merciful and bittersweet close.

"I've been extremely disappointed that I haven't contributed more to this team," McIlroy said, after his 3&2 victory over Xander Schauffele.

"The toughest bit about all of this is this is going to be hard because Paddy will be questioned and that is not fair." - Ian Poulter.

Europe fell 19-9 – the most lopsided loss under the current format that dates to 1979.

In the post-defeat dissection that's sure to come for a European team that had won nine of the last 12 of these meetings, certainly the disappearing act by McIlroy will be one of the top talking points.

But Europe's issues went deeper than that, and the match-up against the US doesn't look great for the near future.

Europe had four 40-somethings – Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia – while America had none that old.

That 40-plus crowd went 5-9 over three days, a mark that would've been worse had Garcia not been paired with World No.1 Jon Rahm for three wins in fourball and foursomes to start the week.

Eight of America's 12 players are in their 20s; 11 of them were ranked in the top-20 in the world rankings.

"The US were very strong," Harrington said.

"Whatever their plan was, they got it right this week. A strong team, played well ... It's a great win for them."

There's young talent on Europe's side as well, and those players have long been sold on the passion of the Ryder Cup.

"The heart of the team will be here for a few years to come now" Harrington said.

But as this dispiriting week showed, passion, camaraderie and team chemistry only gets a team so far.

The best-case scenario is that Europe's younger set, including Viktor Hovland, Tyrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, keep improving and they might look to Rahm for help – the World No.1 the shining light at Whistling Straits despite his singles defeat.

The Ryder Cup goes to Marco Simone in Italy in 2023.