Paul Corry believes Ireland have no chance of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and that fans should accept it will be a campaign of development for Stephen Kenny's side.
An inexperienced Irish starting XI scored their first goals in seven games but were beaten 3-2 in Serbia in their opening Group A qualifier last night.
With the return fixture and two games against European champions Portugal to come, even a play-off spot is already looking a tall order for the Boys in Green.
"We need a dose of reality here," former Sheffield Wednesday and UCD midfielder Corry told 2fm's Game On.
"I don't think there's any chance we're going to qualify out of this group.
"When you look at the quality of players they have, there's no chance we are going to compete with a Serbia or Portugal when one qualifies automatically and one goes into a play-off.
"I think this is a qualifying campaign whereby we get back to basics. We need to get a structure in place whereby we have an identity about what it is we do.
"Then you're looking to two, three, four years down the line when you have better players coming through and you have something in place for them that allows them to progress and then we look to get results.
"That's where I see us at this moment in time. I understand some of the pressure on Stephen Kenny but I also think we need to be realistic about where we are as a country.
"We need to be patient and hopefully in due time things come good."
While admitting there were weaknesses Corry said he saw enough progress against Serbia to be confident of getting off the mark against Luxembourg on Saturday.
"It was a bit of a mixed bag. There were definitely spells within the game that, from a players' point of view, you will take confidence heading into the Luxembourg game.
"In the first half there were spells when we kept the ball really well. We moved Serbia around and created chances.
"We didn't do it for long enough but if you can take that through into a game where we do have better players than the opposition then there's hope there.
"I thought the formation worked quite well and it suits the personnel we have.
"The nature of the (first) goal and how we created it is something you definitely have to take confidence from. The more we see that the more you start to build faith within the team.
"It's not perfect, it's going to take time, but there's definitely something to build on."