There was a time not so long ago when Ireland routinely beat Spain at underage level. We were competing at the business end of youth World Cups.
We were winning European Championships and there was justified cause for excitement and optimism. Fast-forward 15 years and that once-golden generation is on the cusp of bidding farewell.
John O'Shea and Robbie Keane are the final stragglers out the door. And frankly we're not left with much. The age profile of the senior team is worrying in the extreme. As things stand, we won't have one Premier League starter under the age of 25 come August. We're in crisis.
The great work done by Brian Kerr and his team has not been built on. Resources clearly haven't been right. Local politics have been damaging and allowed to fester. And as we watch our co-efficient dwindle away, worries about a lost decade ahead are not unfounded.
It is in this context we must analyse Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane. Have they disappointed? Yes. But bringing in another manager won't change a huge heap. Our structures appear to be miles behind. It's a crisis which needs sorting. I'm holding my breath.