Japanese set-piece specialist Aya Miyama had expected the quarter-final clash against China to be a real test. However, the Nadeshiko played well and showed the hosts no mercy as goals from Homare Sawa and Yuki Nagasato sent them into the last four.
The 2-0 defeat came as a bitter pill to swallow for Shang Ruihua's side, who had fixed their sights firmly on their second Olympic medal.
"We tried our best but the Japanese put the game under their control with their better passing," Chinese forward Han Duan told FIFA.com. "They looked well-prepared for the game and were the better side of the night."
While the disappointment was obvious, Han Duan, one of the only two players who figured prominently at USA 2003, admitted their rivals have developed into a dominant force in Asia.
"Japan have made sustained progress over the recent years and to be honest, they are a stronger side than us," she continued. "However, we are a young side and we had been given only four months for prepare with a new coaching team."
The quarter-final loss marked the first major defeat in Shang's 144 days in charge of the Steel Roses. Despite the disappointment, the 64-year-old was philosophical when addressing the press.
"I am sad we failed to progress into last four but Japan were really well-organised and attacked very well. We are still going through a lot of change and I hope our rebuilding process is going in the right direction."
"The team's demonstration of spirit and will has added to our hopes and makes me believe that the Chinese women's game will enjoy a bright future."