My site has been largely unresponsive for three days due to a large amount of traffic.
I redesigned the site to use a single sprite and load it only once; however, now there's a massive amount of 404 errors as people still attempt to load the old content. The site is on a VPS, and it's unusable due to the latency.
To make matters worse, I had initially assumed the latency was due to a lack of caching. I added a directive to the .htaccess file for visitors to cache resources (the old, inefficient code included).
My host has been unable to rectify the problem. What can be done to force the persistent connections to stop trying to load obsolete content?