IS IT just the bottom of the regular roller-coaster in world sport or has Australia lost the plot?
The horror six-nil loss to France by the Socceroos, after losing by the same margin to Brazil a month ago, immediately brought the curtain down on national coach Holger Osieck's three-year term at the helm.
But it also starkly added to the list of poor performances in one of this country's more dismal years in what has always been its greatest strength internationally: sport.
While there have been good results in golf and sports that enjoy a lesser profile, the headline-grabbers have had shockers - led by rugby union, cricket, football and the better- known Olympic sports.
Making it back into the world group has hardly made it a stellar year in tennis, and while the results at the world swimming championships were better than in London last year, there is a fair amount of ground to be made up by Australia's two most successful sports over time.
And then of course there are the years experienced by the NRL and AFL, neither of which will rank highly in either sport's best 12 months on record.
Frank Lowy says he had to let Osieck go in the long-term interests of Australia football. Yet in the same breath he was talking about next year's World Cup in Brazil and the 2015 Asian Cup, neither event being all that far down the track.
Hardly the best parameters for a truly long-term decision.
Soccer is an unusual case in a way because we are johnny-come- latelies and have made just three World Cup play-offs. But as with most other forays towards the top of world sport, there is an expectation that we will not only succeed but continue to do so.
Money might perhaps be the only reason we have not won sailing's America's Cup a second time in our own name, but it shows that it and the other really tough mountain we recently climbed, the Tour de France, are not all that easy to repeat.
With the World Cup only staged every four years, it is hard to imagine when Australia might be in a position to truly contend for it, if ever. Yet we will continue to be disappointed that we are not.
Even rationalising that we cannot, however, does not mean that we could continue to accept wallopings by six goals in big games. Our problem used to be scoring goals: now it seems that preventing them is an even bigger issue.
But on the more realistic front of those sports in which we have long and rich pasts, are we heading in the right direction?
Or have we been besotted by the lure of sports science and performance strategies to such a degree that we have forgotten that which has traditionally has delivered Australia international success and a healthy nation as a pretty useful by-product.
Sport in schools and mass participation through the club system created a base from which the cream could rise through a myriad levels to the top.
Now we prefer to short-circuit the process by so-called talent search programs and early intervention with those identified therein. And when that fails, it seem that we now can look to a cure-all national draft to move talent from one sport to another.
This move towards manufacturing medals is the sort of short-term fix that Lowy should avoid.
Let's hope the wily businessman forgets about any crazy immediate World and Asian Cup expectations and genuinely looks to the future with whatever it is that he might have up his sleeve.