In public at least, Kent County Council has been relatively restrained in its response to the news that the government has rejected the bid for a grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks.
Council leader Paul Carter spoke constructively of his desire to "help" Michael Gove find a way to give the scheme the go ahead; education cabinet member Cllr Roger Gough issued an emollient statement expressing regret but acknowledging that the decision was a setback.
Behind these carefully-phrased statements in public, there is real irritation at Mr Gove's apparent reluctance to do what he can to effect the provision of more grammar school places.
But KCC and campaigners knew at the outset that it was a calculated risk to contrive a proposal that could somehow be fitted into the complex and conflicting legal arrangements that surround academies, selection and the ability of schools and LEAs to respond to demographic pressures.
The argument appears to have turned on two key issues: whether the annexe proposal could be considered an extension of an existing school - which would have permitted the proposal - and whether the plan would be consistent with existing admissions arrangements at the two schools bidding to be the sponsor.
It was a sign of the county council's own uncertainty that it sought outside legal advice from specialist education lawyers. This advice was not made public because of the finely balanced arguments involved that the county council feared would - if disclosed - open the door to a possible legal challenge from opponents.
That the DfE was so conclusive in its rejection of KCC's favoured bid - the one involving the Invicta Academy Trust in Maidstone - does rather suggest the county council was perhaps overly optimistic: it is hard to imagine that the advice it received did not set out the fairly obvious grounds in which the DfE could refuse the plan.
Particularly telling is the phrase in the DfE's letter to Invicta that "various assertions clearly indicate that the reason for your proposal is a desire to establish a new school."
Not that the bid might be open to argument but that it "clearly indicates" if not the motive then the consequences of it. Kent County Council would also have known that the plan might founder on the rules around admissions - indeed, this is an area in which the authority has plenty of experience in the context of managing a selective system.
A scheme that involved a single sex girls school 19 miles away from its proposed co-educational annexe - and suggest a new boys annex at the Maidstone site to overcome the same-sex issue - may have the merit of inventiveness but would, I suspect, have been fairly comprehensively demolished in the courts.
As to the Weald of Kent and its rival bid, the DfE was a little less harsh but concluded, as it did with the Invicta bid, the proposal was not complaint with the current Admissions Code.
All of which will be of little comfort to campaigners who have sought to address what is the genuine problem in the area - namely, a shortage of selective places in Sevenoaks.
I doubt whether the Invicta Trust will want to engage in a new bid; the Weald of Kent would appear to have greater room for manouvre but would still have to address the issue that it is a single sex school and becoming co-educational might just be more hassle than it is worth.
The DfE says the door remains open to other proposals but warns that they must not be a new school. The Conservative administration at KCC has invested significant time and effort in backing the idea of a new selective annexe but the DfE's explicit judgement on both bids indicate the huge difficulties of devising any scheme that would comply with the law.
Michael Gove could of course take steps to amend the legislation on selection and admissions but I rather doubt he will - even if, on the political front, he is taking a lot of flax for blocking a new grammar school.
The intervention of the chief inspector of Ofsted Michael Wilshaw who has made a scathing attack on grammars will not be encouraging for pro-selection campaigners.
In an interview with The Observer, Mr Wilshaw says the government should reject calls for more grammars, saying they do nothing for social mobility.
"The grammar schools might do well with 10% of the school population, but everyone else does really badly. What we have to do is make sure all schools do well in the areas in which they are located."
KCC may quietly decide that the answer to the shortage of selective places lies somewhere else.