And neither was the road to Rio lost in one match.
New manager Gordon Strachan now has to accept he is trying to build a platform from which to launch a challenge for qualification for Euro 2016.
The 2-1 defeat at the hands of Wales confirmed Brazil has gone, and what a big job he has accepted.
Sure, there are mitigating circumstances, given that a 1-0 lead, provided by Grant Hanley just before the break, had appeared to set Scotland on course for their first win in Group A.
But a quick one-two from the Aaron Ramsey and Hal Robson-Kanu - with goals only 93 second apart - after Robert Snodgrass was shown a second yellow card mid-way through the second half has left Strachan's side down and out in this campaign, with half of it still to be played.
It continues in Serbia on Tuesday, and few would hold out much hope of the Scots adding to their meager haul of two points when they go to Novi Sad.
The Tartan Army battled the elements to report for duty at Hampden to find out which route march Scotland would now be taking them under the leadership of Strachan.
Unfortunately, this defeat means they must prepare for a bit more national service in no-man's land.
While the Welsh were deemed fortunate to win in Cardiff in October, there could be no complaints from the Scots this time.
They have now come out on top against the Scots in five of their last six meetings, and this one hurt more than any other, given how much fresh hope the appointment of Strachan had brought.
The opening period of the game did not bode well, at times appearing to be an exercise in attackers v defenders, with the home side struggling to get out of their own half.
Wales passed the ball with ease and accuracy while Scotland simply passed the ball back to the Welsh.
The fluency and precision which had been the hallmark of the win over Estonia in Strachan's first game in charge had been replaced by profligacy verging on the negligent.
How the Welsh capitalised, with the double-act of Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy at the heart of their assaults on Allan McGregor's goal.
The keeper was up to the task, and bailed out his defenders and midfielders on at least three occasions in a fraught first 25 minutes.
In their defence, the loss of Steven Fletcher after just two minutes had stunned the Scots on the field and in the stands.
The striker had jumped for a high ball on the half-way line, but landed with Ben Davies' foot on his right ankle.
The stretcher was called, and so was Kenny MIller.
The experienced striker quickly confirmed he had lost none of his willingness to chase and harry, and came close with a couple of headers from crosses by Snodgrass and Chris Burke as Scotland gradually gained a foothold in the match.
When the opening goal came, in first-half injury-time, it was after Scotland's best period in the match.
As Charlie Mulgrew swung in a corner from the right, Miller made sure keeper Glyn Myhill, could not come for it.
Meanwhile, Hanley had spun away from his marker, Sam Rickets, then dived back across him to head powerfully past the rooted keeper.
The Blackburn defender's other telling contribution to the first half was a tackle on Bale which left the Welsh talisman holding his already-damaged right ankle.
He saw out the remaining few minutes of the half, but, to the delight and relief of the Tartan Army, did not re-appear after the break, replaced by Jonathan Williams.
Buoyed by their lead, and perhaps having had a few home truths told to them in the dressing-room, the Scotland players showed more adventure and cohesion in the second period.
Snodgrass came the width of a post from doubling their lead when he curled a shot from just inside the box.
If that caused hearts to skip a beat, then the sight of sub Andy King firing the ball into the home net second after coming on for Jack Collison caused them to sink.
However, fussy French ref, Antony Gautier, had spotted a foul on McGregor by Ashley Williams, the relief was palpable.
The referee was to cause consternation on 70 minutes, though, when he showed Snodgrass a second yellow card after the Norwich winger had tried to block a Chris Gunter cross .
A penalty was also awarded – TV showed it was the correct decision – and Ramsey rattled it on off the underside of McGregor's bar to level.
The Scots were still trying to reorganise when a cross from King saw Robson-Kanu jump between Gary Caldwell and Hanley to head home.
Not even the dismissal of Ramsey in injury time for tugging back James McArthur could prevent the defeat which leaves Scotland rooted at the bottom of Group A, and Strachan realising how big the mountain he has to climb.