As World Cup fever dies down, and a deserved Germany proudly parade the trophy, we're left with nothing but memories - new heroes, and new zeroes.
The tournament symbolised everything which is good about the game; the emergence of Golden Boot-wielding James Rodriguez to global superstar, the fighting performances of underdogs like Chile and Costa Rica, the patriotic passion of football fans all over the globe.
But it also highlighted a sweeping pandemic. A disease which has plagued the game for some time now, and shows no sign of abating.
The economy of football is simply spiralling beyond recognition, and unless we regain a grip on it soon, we may never regain control of our beautiful game.
Take Brazil's captain against Colombia, David Luiz. The bouncy-headed samba star, who, lest we forget, has just joined deep-pocketed Paris Saint-Germain from Chelsea for nearly £50m, gave huge credence to his critics with an appallingly inept performance in his nation's 7-1 thrashing by the Germans.
It was, quite frankly, one of the worst individual defensive performances that I have ever seen. Forget the Seleçao, an outing that poor would have made him look silly turning out for the Slug and Fiddle on a Sunday morning.
And he followed it up with another similarly incompetent performance against the Dutch just days later.
That he has just moved clubs for such a gigantic amount of money is simply ridiculous. I have seen plenty of him during his time at Stamford Bridge, and in my opinion the boy is not worth even a fifth of that price.
Anyone who has had the misfortune to watch him regularly for the Blues will not be surprised that he has featured so little in the club's biggest games. Ultimately, José simply could not trust the player - whenever he was really tested, he capitulated. He was just as much of a liability as he has been for his country over the last four or five weeks.
He is the ultimate square peg in a round hole - a defender who can't defend - and the heat map of his movements during that embarrassing debacle against the champions underlined just how ill-disciplined he is.
In fact, I'd go as far to say that I'd take one of the Iranian centre halves over him any day of the week. Of course, they lack the glamour factor - the sexiness - or indeed, the recognisable hairstyle craved by advertising executives.
This is a player that Gary Neville - and love him or loathe him, the guy is astute - described as performing as though he was a player being controlled by a 10-year-old kid on a Playstation.
It says it all that half of the players in the most recent, ridiculously big budget Nike advert weren't even iconic - they were simply average players, lumped into a category by an increasingly-desperate media, and are, in effect, world-class by association.
If it wasn't for his gimmick hairstyle, I highly doubt that he would be turning out in the upper echelons of European football, much less leading out his country at a World Cup finals - and that he is able to strut about so arrogantly, blaming everyone else for his mistakes, and pocketing a small fortune, is more fool us.
The bottom line is that football is out of control. We have created a monster - and very soon, it will eat itself.
There is simply no consistency to transfer value. Just to put the madness into perspective, look at Real Madrid this week, who have snapped up World Cup winner Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich for £20m.
Now, for a young player, who consistently looked head and shoulders above anyone else in the middle of the park, for a side that went on to lift the trophy, that's a fair shout. Without a doubt, Kroos was one of the players of the tournament.
Yet, in the same window, Liverpool have splashed £25m on Southampton's Adam Lallana - without even a European appearance to his name, and part, albeit a small one, of the England set-up which failed so miserably in South America.
It smacks, once again, of the English media so desperate to label up and coming domestic talents 'world class' - they've been doing it for years, and they've hardly been right yet.
The perception of young, homegrown players being far better than they actually are is endemic across England, and in my opinion, it's a desperate attempt by an ailing national game to stroke its own ego.
Ask the English media who the last world-class English player was, and they'll give you names like Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney. Laughably, even Andros Townsend was the nation's saviour for about a fortnight.
Ask a Spanish, German, or Brazilian fan who the last world-class English player was, and they'd give you names like Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks. It really has been that long since the Three Lions produced a player who would slot straight into an all-time XI.
You could argue that the likes of David Beckham, who won everything there was to be won at club level, and Paul Scholes, unlikely poster boy of the tiki-taka generation, might - at a push - squeeze into that bracket, but even they, the so-called Golden Generation, found no success on the international scene.
It's no wonder that under-pressure English club managers look to take the continental cheap option when young, promising - but ultimately Championship-level - talents, such as Jordan Rhodes, Tom Ince and Ross McCormack, are changing hands for upwards of £5m.
It's alright throwing money at players in the hope that one will stick, but statistics show that actually, most big money transfers don't work out.
Let's take a look at the some of the biggest Premier League transfers in recent years. Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, Willian, Erik Lamela, Marouane Fellaini, even back to Andriy Shevchenko - the list goes on. All transfers well over £25m in value, all transfers reaping largely underwhelming results.
I've been a vociferous critic of Arsene Wenger in the past, but in this respect, he's got it spot on. The wiley Frenchman refuses to be bullied by market trends, supply and demand - and if he feels that a player is not worth a certain value, which seems to be the case more and more nowadays, then he will not pay it. Simple.
It's time that other clubs - and particularly owners - began taking a stand too. Modern-day football is crying out for a dose of common sense, and unless those involved unite to bring this madness to an end, then the game will continue to go to rack and ruin.
In fact, there is a direct correlation between actual spend - as in wages - and success. Forget the ridiculous transfer fees, maybe football needs to seriously consider adopting a draft system like that employed by the NFL and NBA.
One thing's for sure - it would mean a fairer distribution of talent, a re-boot of the global game, and also provide less opportunity to agents and fixers to leech off big money transaction.
But is there the motivation to overhaul the sport in such a way, within it? I'm not so sure. Football club chairmen and owners of old tended to be local businessmen done good. The lucky few who hit the big bucks and decided to re-invest some of that wealth back into the community.
Now, running a football club is a completely different animal. In truth, they're not even 'football clubs'; they're multi-national, billion dollar, corporate brands.
As such, the likes of Roman Abramovich, Sheik Mansoor and co have different agendas, which helps to fuel an empty economy, full of inflated prices, PR and hype. Style over substance.
The modern game is so well-packaged and sold, that nowadays, it is more like World Wrestling Entertainment than the game we all fell in love with. Forget the sports channels, it should be primetime viewing on Sky Atlantic, or HBO.
It is a growing problem, which is only going to get worse, and one which football as a whole must learn how to tackle. Ironically, a skill that David Luiz needs to learn, too - yet he's laughing all the way to the bank.