"It’s a very big day for us." Karl Stefanovic opens Today Show without Lisa Wilkinson.

This morning, as the country ‘woke up with Today‘, viewers were treated to an unfamiliar sight: co-host Karl Stefanovic sitting beside Deborah Knight, instead of the usual Lisa Wilkinson.

Today marks the first day of the new-look show, after Wilkinson made the shock announcement on Monday night that she would no longer be appearing on the breakfast show and would instead be co-hosting The Project on rival network Channel 10.

“It’s a very big day for us on the show, and a very big day for Lisa Wilkinson — and we’ll have plenty more to say about that later in the program,” Stefanovic told viewers as he opened the show this morning about 5.30am.

They quickly moved right past it: “As we always do, we will get on with the news of the day.”

LISTEN: Lisa Wilkinson talks to Mia Freedman about marriage, Karl and her latest project on No Filter.

Things were a little uncomfortable as he and Knight proceeded to read the “news of the day” – or the front pages of leading newspapers – to find Wilkinson’s shock departure splashed everywhere.

“It came as a bit of a shock to us,” Stefanovic admitted.

Two hours into the show, about 7.30am, Stefanovic commenced the show’s farewell to Wilkinson alongside a compilation of some of her best moments.

“For 10 years Lisa has dragged herself out of bed at 3.30 in the morning, fed the dogs and cats, put a load of washing on and came into work to inform you of what was happening in the world,” Stefanovic began.

“For 10 years she handled the brutal hours with a grace, beauty, intelligence and wicked sense of humour. For whatever reason, she won’t be doing that now.”

The former Today team. Image: Instagram.

Karl went onto say they were "all a little shocked" at the news and that it will "take time to sink in". But, instead of commenting on reports that Wilkinson left Nine over a pay dispute - that she wasn't paid as much as him - Stefanovic simply said 'thank you'.

"Thank you for the laughs, the sage advice, the calmness, oh, the calmness," he said. "Thank you for all of your support. Thank you for being a great colleague. Thanks for being a great interviewer. Thanks for being a great dancer and a truly, truly terrible singer. Thanks for being a great mum - I know you value that more than anything else. And thank you for being a great friend."

He said he would see her soon - "maybe after midday" - and encouraged her to go with "lots of love, all of my love" and "enjoy the sleep-ins".

Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys also chimed in with emotional words of congratulations. "It is a start of a brilliant and exciting new chapter and I will be cheering her on as I always do," she said.

Jeffreys also acknowledged what we all know to be true: that Wilkinson is an inspiration.

"Seeing is believing for young girls and for young women and what they see in Lisa is a strong, influential, fun and compassionate woman at the very, very top of her game. That is a very powerful thing.

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Entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins said he was looking forward to celebrating with Lisa when they have the chance and reminisced on the "many laughs, hundreds of flights, and thousands of hours on air".

Deb Knight, who was sitting in Wilkinson's former seat this morning, also shared a message of love and support. "You are proud, passionate, principled and you are much admired and loved by our viewers and the broader Australian community," Knight said. "All the very best, and all of our love as well."

Finally, Tim Gilbert, said farewell with a Sound of Music quote (cue: tears). "As a fellow Sound of Music fan, Lisa, I have to say Maria von Trapp when a door closes, a window opens. There it is. I wish you all the very best to you and Fitz and the family."

And, on that note, with Stefanovic saying quietly "We have to roll on...", Channel Nine farewelled Lisa Wilkinson

Wilkinson announced yesterday that she was leaving Nine's Today breakfast show for a position at Network Ten because her contract was "unable to meet the expectations".

The breakdown in negotiations reportedly came after Nine refused to pay her the same as Stefanovic. And it's since been announced Wilkinson is joining Ten's evening news program The Project.

Her new co-hosts - including Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar - were quick to share their congratulations and excitement.

Lisa is set to begin her new role with Channel 10 from January 2018.