RUSTENBURG - Mexico may be facing a familiar prospect after their Group A defeat by Uruguay on Tuesday - a second round exit for the fifth consecutive World Cup finals.
Dreams of a third appearance in the quarter-finals, prompted by talk of this being the finest Mexican squad of modern times, look likely to be wrecked in Johannesburg on Sunday when they face in-form Group B winners Argentina.
If they lose, it will be their second consecutive departure at this stage of the finals at the hands of their Latin American rivals - a scenario that has prompted coach Javier Aguirre to talk of revenge.
They lost a second round meeting with Argentina 2-1 after extra time in Leipzig in 2006. "This could be a nice opportunity to take revenge for what happened four years ago," said Aguirre in the aftermath of a poor performance against 'La Celeste'.
"Here, against Uruguay, we were lacking attitude. We were a bit afraid and scared, but FIFA can rest assured we were trying to win! We will try to recover - we have four days to prepare for the match and it is going to be spectacular. We will try to recover and go as far as we can in this tournament."
Aguirre was referring to fears that Mexico and Uruguay may have played for a draw that would have ensured both qualified, whatever happened elsewhere. As it was, both went through.
But if his players' body language was any sign of their mood on Tuesday evening, as they trooped disconsolately and mostly silently through the post-match 'mixed zone', they have less faith in overcoming Diego Maradona's in-form team than their determined coach.
Captain Rafael Marquez was one of the few who spoke to reporters. He said: "We have to get better whatever happens... in terms of what lies ahead, everything is down to us and we have to continue to work hard and try to do what we did against France."
Having drawn with spirited South Africa and then triumphed 2-0 over a sinking France, Aguirre's intricate passing team - sorely missing the injured Carlos Vela in attack - failed to find any cutting edge as a solid Uruguay won by the only goal of a closely contested game.
Aguirre's decision to start with 37-year-old forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco in attack ensured a relatively easy afternoon for a Uruguayan defence that secured a third consecutive clean sheet and plenty of criticism from Mexican fans and media.comments