That start. The haemorrhaging of players to a combination of injury and suspension. A general feeling that northern hemisphere sides have inferior skills to their southern hemisphere counterparts.
All of these, and more have been highlighted as factors in that depressing Irish loss to Argentina on Sunday.
For Wayne Smith of The Australian, Sunday's hammering confirmed an unwanted title for Ireland.
The loss confirmed Ireland as the worst chokers in World Cup history. Despite the fact they had beaten Argentina the last five times they met, Joe Schmidt’s team because (sic) the sixth Irish side to lose a Cup quarter-final. Indeed, they have never progressed to the semi-finals, making them the only Tier One nation never to have progressed that far.
Stuff.co.nz's Liam Napier thought there to be a marked difference in quality between the skills on display from southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere teams.
Ireland made two line breaks against the Pumas. Down by 20 points, their idea of chasing the game was to kick for territory. Sure, they were missing four key players - Paul O'Connell, Jonathan Sexton, Peter O'Mahony and inspirational flanker Sean O'Brien - and their backs tried hard, but the contrast was clear...
...The Pumas blew Ireland away with a frenetic tempo, scoring two tries in first 10 minutes and shooting out to a 17-0 lead that ultimately proved too much to chase down. Their threats came from all angles. Big ball carriers, the likes of No 8 Leonardo Senatore, broke tackles at will in the wide channels. They were good in the air, went up the guts and then used the width. It was absorbing; the skills on display from backs and forwards alike classy.
Rarely did we see that from the north and that's why their hopes are now over.
Nick Mulvenny for Reuters.
Ultimately, though, the absence of captain Paul O'Connell and playmaker Johnny Sexton as well as two regular starting flankers were losses Ireland could ill afford and their quest for a first World Cup semi-final will go on for at least another four years.
The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell felt the decision not to issue Romiro Herrera with a second yellow card was 'inexplicable'.
Then came a momentous call: Herrera charged into a static ruck with a pile-driver of a shoulder, unattached to the action, and inexplicably escaped dismissal after his earlier yellow.
Also for The Guardian, Mike Averis thought Argentina's use of the bench superior to Ireland.
Ireland arrived in Cardiff close to being on their knees, having lost their captain and totem, Paul O’Connell, two of their back-row warriors, Paul O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien, and finally their tactical inspiration, Johnny Sexton. Their replacements did well enough but when it came time for both coaches to turn to their benches it was Hourcade rather than Joe Schmidt who came up trumps.
An embarrassment for northern hemisphere countries not to have a team in the semis according to Paul Heyward of the The Telegraph.
A World Cup denouement in London when the four remaining contestants hail from south of the equator is an embarrassing anomaly for Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France – who all crashed out on an otherwise monumentally entertaining weekend for the sport. Even worse: England traipsed out after three games. So what is this: a World Cup or a northern hemisphere benefit tour? Resistance was offered by Wales and Scotland, who were mighty on a rancorous Sunday at Twickenham. But France and Ireland were hammered.
Writing for The Telegraph, ex-All Black Zinzan Brooke highlighted Robbie Henshaw as an example of the attacking talent in the north.
There is no lack of talent or skill in some northern hemisphere players. Guys such as Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Robbie Henshaw are wonderful attacking players who would not look out of place in the Rugby Championship. The difference is the licence they are given to express those talents. When you look at the number of defence coaches with a rugby league background like Andy Farrell in the game, you wonder how much of a negative influence they have. There is far too much focus on sticking to systems rather than playing what is in front of you.
John Haughey for BBC Sport - like many others - named Ireland's shocking start as the main reason for defeat.
However, the Irish could not capitalise on two good chances in the third quarter - the first as intense pressure after 48 minutes failed to yield any points before Ian Madigan missed a long-range penalty chance which would have levelled the contest on 60 minutes.
The effort expended in attempting to recover from their awful start took its toll on the Irish in the closing stages as Tuculet's 68th-minute score ended the game as a contest before Imhoff's second touchdown.
Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE