Marco Reus' injury was enough to shake a nation. Germany watched, with baited breath, as the Borussia Dortmund attacker clutched his ankle and rarely showed signs of recovering. He hobbled off - and that was his tournament over.
"A dream shattered in an instant," Reus said, in his own words.
The 24-year-old was taking all of the pressure on his shoulders, as Germany aimed to come back from Brazil with their fourth World Cup. The likes of Mesut Özil, Mario Götze and Toni Kroos have had indifferent seasons with their respective club teams.
Thus, Reus - scoring seven goals in his last seven league games, assisting another five - was what the Germans term Hoffnungsträger - the great hope.
An innocuous tumble will lead to three months of recovery for the attacker. He lasted only 23 minutes of the win over Armenia in Mainz - but it also adds strain ahead of his return to pre-season with Dortmund.
And so, Germany goes without him. This piece was targeted as a reason why Germany were set to smash their opponents at the World Cup, with everything falling into place for this "new" generation of talent that impressed in 2010.
Preparation in South Tyrol, Austria was nothing short of chaotic: with off-field scandals involving Joachim Löw and Kevin Großkreutz, followed by persistent injury concerns centering on Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcel Schmelzer.
Bounce games against an U20 German team was little match for serious tests - a 2-2 draw against Cameroon, then a 6-1 win over Armenia.
Although Reus featured in the majority of both matches, prior to his injury, it gave us an indication of the capabilities of those who now carry the burden of responsibility for the DFB-team.
To find them, Germany are looking to their London-based players - and in the main, Lukas Podolski of Arsenal and Andre Schürrle from Chelsea.
Podolski is the man of the moment - he's struck against Armenia, but set up three of the six goals. A week earlier, he changed the match against Cameroon, setting up a goal for Schürrle.
The Arsenal man hasn't got the best track record of performing at the major finals, but in the absence of Reus, he has, perhaps, his best opportunity of stamping his name into the Germany record books.
Also, there's a commonly-found opinion that Schürrle is actually Germany's best out-and-out centre-forward. Klose, who turned 36 in June, is surely not at the condition to perform in Brazil considering some injury issues this season.
On Ball Street's draw show, Ossie Ardilles picked out Germany, above others, as the team from Europe who could be in contention in South America. Of course, that came before Reus' important injury. Yet, many would still pick the Germans as their favourites for the finals. Even in the wake of the Netherlands destroying Spain on the second night of action.
For Germany to add a fourth star - after three World Cup wins to date - the onus is consequently on previous fringe players to take advantage of a golden opportunity to be held in the same breath as other German greats.
By Ross Dunbar for Ball Street
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