Skipper John O'Shea came out fighting as pressure mounted on manager Giovanni Trapattoni in the wake of the Republic of Ireland's humiliation by Germany.
Today's newspapers made uncomfortable reading for the 73-year-old Italian with the back page of one carrying the banner headline 'Go now!' as the post-mortem began in earnest.
Even Trapattoni's former lieutenant Liam Brady, in his role as RTÉ pundit, suggested in the immediate aftermath of last night's 6-1 demolition job at the Aviva Stadium that there was nowhere to hide for a man whose tenure has come under increasing focus in recent weeks.
However, O'Shea, who wore the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Robbie Keane, demonstrated a commendable loyalty, as well as strength of character, when he fronted up to face the music.
Asked about Brady's comments, he said: "Look, it's easy for Liam to say that straight away just after a result like that. Fair enough - everyone is gutted.
"There's a way to lose a game and that's not the way to do it.
"Obviously, we know Germany are major favourites for the group. Beforehand, everyone was talking about us battling for second place here.
"In hindsight after a result like that, it's easy to make a sweeping statement like that, but if we finish second in the group, what will that statement look like then?"
O'Shea's diplomacy, however, masks the fact that all is far from well within the Ireland camp with retirements and injuries having severely weakened the manager's hand, but with his stock sliding too.
Having abandoned the 4-4-2 formation to which he has stuck so slavishly throughout his four-and-a-half-year reign in an attempt to shackle Germany's mobile midfield - a move which spectacularly failed to have the desired effect - he looked on helplessly as his side imploded.
O'Shea said: "When you are giving the goals away that we gave away - they had eight shots on goal and they scored six goals - that's a hell of a ratio for them to take.
"Look, they were different class to us. They tore us apart, they made themselves look second in the world and we are 28th, or whatever it is, clearly."
O'Shea added: "If we were going to qualify for Brazil, it was going to be a massive, massive bonus if we got a result against Germany home and away.
"If we are going to qualify from this group, it's against the other teams in the group - everyone has known that - so it's a massive game on Tuesday.
"We saw from the result Sweden had how difficult a game that is going to be as well. They scraped a 2-1 win, Austria couldn't beat Kazakhstan...
"Look, in hindsight now, it's gutting. The players, the manager, everyone is devastated. We feel very low, believe me.
"But we have a game on Tuesday and if we get the three points there, we will look on to the rest of the campaign."