It is said that the league table doesn't lie and, for Australia, the Group B standings offer a stark, depressing truth. That fact is that, with two games played and not a single point to their name, Ange Postecoglou's side go into their third and final match without any hope of advancing.

Yet as is so often the case, statistics tell only part of the story. The Socceroos may have nothing to show for their efforts, but those efforts have been considerable, as anyone who has watched their matches will testify.

Inexperience and a lack of concentration cost them at crucial moments, but there were also obvious and unmistakable causes for encouragement. Positive performances and a new, adventurous style of play were among the most notable, and defender Alex Wilkinson believes that Postecoglou's reign offers plenty to look forward to.

"It's the start of a new era, I think," he told FIFA. "The boss has come in and made a lot of changes. He definitely believes in youth, he believes in young Australian players and he's shown that. He's also shown that he believes in playing football and putting teams under pressure. [Against the Dutch] I thought we did that very well, we pressed them quite well, and I don't know that they would have expected that. I think it put them on the back foot. It's great to go out and see that an Aussie team can mix it with the best, and we'll take a lot of confidence from it."

A similarly positive and defiant tone was struck by Wilkinson's defensive colleague Matthew Spiranovic, who had this warning for anyone coming up against the new-look Socceroos. "Australia's coming, and we'll definitely be fighting at the highest level in the future," he said. "In the first half [against the Netherlands], it was all about us. They couldn't play [their way] out, and they were having problems and playing a lot of long balls.

"We're really showing that we can even outplay these type of teams, and we're only going to get better. It's been a short period since Ange took over, and there have been a lot of changes. We've played unbelievably, considering that. I'm sure over the coming years that we'll definitely be stepping up and going forward every single game we play."

The undoubted highlight of Australia's performance was a magnificent goal from Tim Cahill that, already, is being bracketed alongside the best in FIFA World Cup™ history. Spiranovic had the perfect view, and admitted that he didn't have faith in his team-mate to execute the volley in such style.

"I was about halfway up the field, so for me it was a great angle. And, honestly, when he hit it I didn't think it was anywhere near the goal," he conceded. "Then it's hit the crossbar and went in. It was an unbelievable goal, and that shows the class Timmy has."

Yet for all their fine play and Cahill's unforgettable strike, that unpalatable truth - early and certain elimination - remains. Indeed, for all the encouragement he and his team-mates have taken from their Brazil 2014 experience thus far, Wilkinson summed up his emotions in one word: "Gutted."

He added: "We definitely feel that we should have got something [against the Dutch] , but a few little errors here and there and good teams punish you. It was a pretty decent performance, I guess, but at the end of the day we got nothing out of it.

"We might look back and be happy with parts of the performance, but it's a results business and we didn't get the result we wanted. We'll learn a lot from it though, and we've still got one game to go. Now we're going to go out and take the game to Spain, just like we took it to the Netherlands."