TheMadScientist - 2:59 am on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)
I think one plan would be to 301 instead of 404.
Another plan would be to use a canonical link rel instead of a 404.
A third plan would be to 410 instead of 404.
Personally, I would use a 301 or a canonical link relationship on the pages over removing the content. IOW: I would try to combine rather than remove, and if I had to remove I would use a 410 (permanently, purposely removed) rather than a 404 (not found, could be either temporary or permanent).