Wales boss John Toshack can at least be thankful for that small mercy after the soul-searching which followed Saturday's embarrassing home defeat to Finland, but the points in World Cup Group 4 were always heading to a Germany side which was never stretched.
Toshack made five changes from the side which lost so miserably to Finland. He lost skipper Craig Bellamy earlier today with a recurrence of his knee problem, while Jason Koumas was out with a hip problem. Elsewhere he axed Chris Gunter, Carl Fletcher and David Edwards, bringing in Sam Ricketts following suspension, Ashley Williams, Robert Earnshaw, Sam Vokes and Aaron Ramsey, for his full debut.
Germany made just one change from the side which beat Liechtenstein, Simon Rolfes taking over from Marcell Jansen. Wales were captained by Simon Davies in Bellamy's absence with a totally reconstructed side around the Fulham man.
Germany took the lead after just 11 minutes when Ballack unleashed a swerving drive from 30 yards that crashed into the top corner past Wayne Hennessey.
To their credit Wales side were running and fighting for every ball as the Germans' passing game threatened to overrun them.
And they were getting forward. Ramsey, 18, up against Ballack in midfield, was looking for space and trying to keep possession of the ball and had two efforts on goal charged down on the edge of the box. Wales had a decent chance to equalise after 21 minutes. Ricketts crossed from the right, Vokes headed down and Earnshaw saw his close-range effort blocked by Robert Enke.
Joe Ledley then surged into the box to be brought down by Serdar Tasci, the defender looking to handle the ball as he fell. Germany's menace increased and Hennessey plunged to his left to keep out a 20-yarder from Thomas Hitzlsperger after a tapped free-kick. Then Mario Gomez drove just wide from outside the box.
Hennessey saved superbly from a fierce shot from Lukas Podolski, the Germans looking dangerous every time they came forward, but Wales were showing spirit and when Gareth Bale lifted a free-kick into the box, James Collins rose to head narrowly wide.
After an encouraging first half Wales did not need a stroke of bad luck just three minutes into the second period. Collins had held up Gomez on the right and looked to have run the ball out but the Stuttgart striker kept the ball in. His low cross to the near post was then stabbed past Hennessey by Williams' out-stretched boot for Germany's second.