Where do Greece go from here? This is the question on everybody's lips after the European champions were eliminated from the FIFA Confederations Cup on Sunday and left bottom of Group B with no points and no goals to their credit.
Their normally watertight defence leaked three goals in the first match against Brazil and they were lucky to not to lose by an even greater margin than the eventual 1-0 reverse against Japan in the Waldstadion. It would be nice to answer this question by saying that the only way is up for Otto Rehhagel's men, but the Mexicans may have other ideas when the two sides meet in their final group game on Wednesday.
No points, no goals
Greece are in danger of equalling the unwanted record of leaving the tournament with no points and no goals. Saudi Arabia are the only team in the tournament's history to have this statistic against their name, but they only played two matches in 1995.
Since the number of teams competing in the FIFA Confederations Cup was boosted to eight in 1997, New Zealand, twice, and intriguingly Mexico in 2001 have gone home with zero points and one goal. Canada, also in 2001, got a single point, but failed to find the back of the net in any of their games.
Of course, the Greeks have been hampered by the absence of several key players in the tournament. Centre-back Traianos Dellas could not make the trip and his regular partner in the heart of the Greece defence, Mihalis Kapsis, has yet to make an appearance.
Changes to be made
To add to their problems, Greece also lost full-back Giourkas Seitaridis to an ankle injury after just one half of their opening match against Brazil, and he will play no further part in the tournament. To cap all of this, captain Theodoros Zagorakis could not play against Japan as he had club commitments in Italy. For a team that relies on a defensive strategy, these have been big blows.
Some players complained of feeling drained after the Japan game. "We're all very tired, as we've just had games one after another over the last few weeks. That lies behind this negative result," said Angelos Basinas after the match. With this in mind, Rehhagel has hinted at some personnel changes and he will have to make at least one from Sunday's starting line-up with Georgios Karagounis picking up a suspension with his second yellow card of the tournament.
"It is always a problem having three or four players missing. We had to substitute three players tonight and for the next game we have to rest some players. My wish now is that players on the fringes get the chance to prove what they can do," said Rehhagel.
How many players can rest?
Against Brazil, Rehhagel was reluctant to experiment, but he handed Efstathios Tavlaridis his first cap against Japan. However, the young defender lasted just half an hour of the match before being substituted in a tactical switch that brought on midfield playmaker Vassilios Tsiartas for his first FIFA Confederations Cup appearance. Theofanis Gekas, a striker who grabbed the headlines in Greece last season by ending as the top flight's top scorer, was also introduced at half-time but saw little of the ball with Japan controlling the game by then.
It remains to be seen how many fringe players Rehhagel decides to throw into the match against a Mexican side that is brimming with confidence after turning over world champions Brazil on Sunday. The coach came to Germany full of hope that his players could make waves in his homeland, driven on by the impressive supporters that follow the side in strength, but now they find themselves playing purely for pride.
He must first ask himself just how many established players he can afford to rest without weakening the team to such an extent that they find themselves overrun by Mexico and return home with even redder faces. Only then can he start to answer the question of where Greece go from here.