It wasn't the result that anyone wanted in Geneva as the Republic of Ireland went down 2-0 to Switzerland.
The first of two potential cracks at automatic qualification exposed the obvious difference in quality between the top seeds and Mick McCarthy's charges.
It's still all to play for for Ireland, of course, but they'll need to finally do it against a Denmark side that they have failed to beat in four recent competitive games, including that sobering 5-1 World Cup play-off defeat just under two years ago.
The players will return to their clubs, but instilling some belief in the team will be a mammoth task for the Irish manager when the squad reconvenes next month.
"It's very disappointing to lose the game, but we know what's required now," said John Egan, one of the few players who has impressed in the qualifiers in Tbilisi and Geneva.
"We've a massive game against Denmark, and we know we need to win, and that's what we're going to try to do.
"First-half, we killed ourselves really. We didn't show enough quality and bravery on the ball. We showed second-half, when we actually took a touch, that we can play.
"It's a bit disappointing that we didn't start like that from the first minute. That's the only positive we can take really."
Alan Browne started a competitive game for Ireland as McCarthy elected to take the Swiss on at their own game, starting with a 3-5-2 formation.
It wasn't suiting Ireland as the hosts piled the pressure on , and mid-way through the first-half, it was back to a 4-3-3 set-up for the Boys in Green.
RTÉ Sport's Tony O'Donoghue asked Browne afterwards if he thought the tactical changes had worked.
"It certainly didn't look that way tonight, " was the Preston midfielder's honest appraisal.
"It can vary from game to game. It might have come off. Unfortunately tonight it didn't, and we reverted back to the 4-3-3."
But Browne wasn't attributing the blame on the manager.
"It's not down to the formation. Any formation can beat a team. It's how you go out, and how you play, and it just wasn't to be tonight."
The players will have just over a month to dust themselves down before one more shot at automatic qualification in Dublin.
Aaron Connolly, who was handed a first senior start for his country in Geneva three days after nearly winning the game on debut off the bench in Georgia, said: "It hasn't really changed. It's one win we need. Hopefully we can get that against Denmark and qualify - that's the main thing.
"It's a cup final, it's a huge three points on the line, so there's going to be a big push."
Connolly had departed for Scott Hogan by the time Ireland keeper Darren Randolph saved Ricardo Rodriguez's 77th-minute penalty, awarded for handball against Coleman, and was a frustrated by-stander as Shane Duffy could only deflect substitute Edimilson Fernandes' late shot into his own net.
Asked how big a night it had been for him, he said: "It was, but it ended in disappointment again after the last game and the missed chances.
"It's disappointing because I felt I could have done a bit more, maybe. It's obviously a tough night, but it's a proud night as well.
"They are a good team. They pressed us back and it was tough for the lads to get up and play off me. I just had to do what I could, but it probably wasn't enough. It's a disappointing result.
"We put in a good second-half performance, I think, and maybe deserved a draw. We didn't get that, so we just need to move on now to November, pick up the three points and then that's all forgotten about and we qualify."