Eamon Dunphy believes Martin O'Neill paid the price for "gross mistakes" when it came to his team selection after the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Austria in Dublin.
Jonathan Walters salvaged a draw five minutes from time after Martin Hinteregge's crisp first-half opener, and the hosts might have won it had Shane Duffy's late header not been ruled out for a foul.
It left them temporarily top of Group D before Serbia's clash with Wales, but Dunphy said O'Neill set his team up wrong, and was ultimately punished for it.
Eamon Dunphy: "The team selection was badly wrong. It wasn't a penalty and Shane Duffy did foul." pic.twitter.com/SYtLTZbpja— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 11, 2017
"I'd consider it to be two points lost," the RTÉ soccer analyst said. "The team selection was wrong, and badly wrong.
"It wasn't a penalty and I think Shane Duffy did foul the opposition defender, so I don't think the referee robbed us.
"The centre-half pairing between Kevin Long and Shane Duffy, they looked raw, inexperienced, no composure, and when they had the ball at their feet they were embarrassing.
"The first half is hugely important; the first 20 minutes of a match. That's where you set the tempo and that's where you dominate your opponents and ask questions of them. It never happened. We gave them a one-goal start.
"It is a great credit to the spirit of Jon Walters, and James McClean and the other lads.
"Nobody can question the Irish players' spirit. Hard questions have to be asked about the team selection.
"It would have been much better if Robbie Brady had started at left-back. He's a much better player there. It would have allowed Wes into the team. James McClean then could take up his position as a left-winger. Hendrick wouldn't be playing with his back to goal all the time.
"You have to get everything right when you're a small nation like us and you're trying to get to the World Cup. If you make gross mistakes - and they were gross mistakes - you pay the price. The price you pay today is the loss of two points."
Ireland's next qualifier is in Georgia this September, before Aviva Stadium collisions with Serbia and Moldova and a climactic trip to Wales.