Yesterday, The Greatest Fans in the World - flattened by the result - could at least band together in baleful reality, sitting as they were in a furrow of destruction carved by both Belgian artistry and Irish confusion. Ireland were caught perspiringly between the pragmatic desire for a point - a decent result that would involve a regression to the tactics and possible reprisal of nightmares of Euro 2012 - and the optimism of the opening game against Sweden, a game which featured an Irish willingness to get on the ball and banish the reactive demons of Ukraine and Poland.
In the end, we fell into a trench in the middle. As Shane Long ploughed a lone furrow of his own, we began the game settling for a point and were ultimately caught on the counter-attack, ending the game clinging on to less than nothing.
Where does responsibility for the Irish defeat lie? Eamon Dunphy found fault with James McCarthy, while French paper L'Equipe found fault with virtually all of the Irish players in their match ratings.
HLN in Belgium were understandably triumphant in their side's counter-attacking prowess:
Give the Red Devils space and you're seen. Let De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku walk and pop them through every wall. Ireland cut himself with the knife. Is there a better squad counter in this European Championship?
They briefly addressed Ireland's collapse, under the sub-heading 'Irish Tourists'. We are admittedly relying on Google Translate here, but we assume the 'she' is a collective reference to Kathleen Ni Houlihan, and not James McCarthy:
[The] Irish house of cards collapsed. The tourists went for a beer . Haphazardly she walked the Bordeaux field in search of refreshment. The second was therefore easy.
Some top stereotyping there, lads.
Ireland's failure to score early, or remain deep throughout the second half is what cost us, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad:
It was no coincidence that few moments that Ireland moved that the Belgians were dangerous and could score. Matches loss as against Italy, Wales or even Argentina were all in the same way to create: an opponent who scored in the first half hour and then the Belgians over an hour cheerfully let's play.
The same outlet did a Twitter reaction (they're catching on), entitled 'Kinder Bueno for Everyone'.
In Italy, Gazzetta Dello Sport did player ratings, with Jeff Hendrick top rated with 6.5, McCarthy on 5 and Robbie Keane not rated, as "unsurprisingly he was kept quiet".
Gazzetta also analysed the Irish performance, and while they admitted Belgium were better than us, they believed that Ireland sketched the plans of their own downfall:
However, notwithstanding the clearly disappointing 3-0 scoreline, the manner in which Ireland lost the game seems to mark a step back from their tournament opener. A stubborn defensive showing in the first half aside, moments of faltering concentration and rash decision-making characterised the game as a whole for O’Neill’s men.
Whether it be James McCarthy diving in on Kevin De Bruyne 35 yards from goal in the lead up to the Red Devil’s opener, his additional losing of Axel Witsel for the second, or Ciaran Clark’s own unnecessary challenge on Eden Hazard for the third strike, it is clear that Ireland created their own problems throughout the 90 minutes.
In the same piece, they shoehorned in a mention of Il Trap's experience of Euro 2012.
Dn.se in Sweden, meanwhile, sketched out the permutations for their nation ahead of the final round of games, scribbling 400 words on what Sweden need to do to qualify, with this small little addendum at the end:
But the whole argument around a draw for Sweden is of course based on the fact that Italy does the job against Ireland.Should Ireland win is one group of three, four points.
Let's hope that's an assumption too far.