Jake Birtwhistle's Olympic dream has been put on hold - for another two weeks.
The first Australian to cross the line on Friday could only produce an 11th place finish.
The time was nearly two minutes behind Canadian winner Tyler Mislawchuk and one and half minutes behind third-placed New Zealander Hayden Wilde.
The race for final places on the run leg was so tight that Birtwhistle fell to the back of four competitors that were separated by two seconds.
The unexpected changes of conditions - from hot and humid to warm and windy - after leaving training in the dry Arizona desert partially was to blame for the "pretty disappointing" result.
"Unfortunately, I did not get the automatic selection, which is what we were here to do," Birtwhistle said.
"But we'll move onto the next race in a couple of weeks in the grand final...and plan to obviously be here in 12 months regardless of not getting selection [on Friday].
"Our preparations, I think, are pretty sound. Obviously, it's not the [qualifying] result, but I think we did all the right things and we'll be able to debrief after this weekend and iron out a few kinks."
Australian selectors used its discretionary powers that year and refused to endorse its top-ranked competitor.
But an automatic Olympic position was up for grabs this time around for the first Australian to finish in the top three on the back of the one-time world under-23 champion's best season to date.
Battling a very aggressive swim start and a demanding time on the bike put Birtwhistle on the back foot for his favoured run home.
He exited the water well back in 38th position and was forced to work quickly to make up ground.
"Everyone has a lot on the line here, so it was definitely one of the most aggressive swims," Birtwhistle said.
"We got out of the water and onto the bike and, thankfully, I had a couple of other strong riders that were willing to do a bit of work to get up to the front.
"I got there, stayed safe, which was a big tick on this course, obviously quite challenging and demanding."
But the Odaiba Park circuit was not at fault next.
Birtwhistle had been conditioned to sit back before kicking home in the heat.
That never eventuated.
"That's where I made the mistake of treating the conditions like what we trained for, what we expected, thinking it was going to be super hot and humid and that's what not we had," he said.
"I started off a bit conservatively and in doing so just put myself out of the race."