By BEAU BUSCH
For a nation that has seen its fair share of World Cup qualification hurt, there have been few matches as painful for Australia as the 2-1 loss to Jordan at the King Abdullah International Stadium.
Having so comfortably qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, more of the same was expected of this campaign.
But three matches into the fourth round of qualifying, it has been anything but.
After enduring the pragmatic and often boring football served up by previous boss Pim Verbeek, most were hoping successort Holger Osieck would oversee successful and entertaining football.
The bright start at the 2011 Asian Cup, where the Socceroos were narrowly defeated by Japan in the final, has given way to a run of form that has seen the team win just once in it is previous six matches.
The loss to Jordan was by far the most worrying, as it exposed many of the weaknesses that now appear to characterise the team.
Chief among these is the inability to maintain possession. With the exception of Marco Bresciano, the lack of a passing midfielder is haunting the Socceroos. If Bresciano is injured or marked out of the game, the Socceroos are left with neither the ability to launch quick counter-attacks or build-up from the back and exert sustained possession.
To negate this, Osieck must come-up with a system that can at least give the team the ability to build comfortably from the back. To do so, the positioning of the full-backs is vital, as they must be either the out ball or create the space for midfielders to drop into.
As was the case against Scotland, David Carney struggled to do either, and Luke Wilkshire - while neat and tidy in possession - does not provide the athletic drive necessary.
Ryan McGowan [right] is one inclusion Osieck should consider for his starting XI, believes Busch.
Thankfully for the German tactician, Ryan McGowan does, and he has showed this consistently for Hearts in both the Scottish Premier League and in the Europa League.
This is not simply a 'play the young players' argument to include McGowan - it is purely tactical.
Wilkshire’s most common involvement in attacks is crossing from deep, whereas a more direct and attack-minded full-back would more than likely cross from a more advanced position, making it much easier for attackers to get meaningful efforts on goal.
The rotation of the front four in Osieck’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation must also be finetuned.
The use of Brett Holman on the left would have been made in the knowledge of him being effective coming inside.
The problem was more often than not he was receiving the ball inside, rather than wide then looking to pass or dribble inside to link-up with Brosque.
If he had done this he would have created space to come inside into rather than receiving the ball surrounded by defenders.
The lack of width that Holman provided also made it difficult to play into Brosque's feet, as there was often just too many bodies in the way to find him.
Without ever being able to play into Brosque, the Socceroos lacked a central point from which the other attackers could make runs.
The benefits of being able to play into a front man was shown for the Socceroos' consolation goal from Archie Thompson.
One of the few positives for the Socceroos was the performance of Robbie Kruse.
Having performed well when deployed on the left looking to come inside, Kruse was switched to the right and tasked with stretching Jordan. He did this well and provided most of the attacking threat.
Brazil 2014 is still within reach for Socceroos, but the approach has to be altered and this task rests solely with Osieck.
Arguments regarding age and the future are redundant and he must now come up with an approach that gets the best out of those who he chooses to put in the XI.
The dilemma is whether the young brigade is more equipped to do so, and - on the evidence of recent matches - they are unlikely to fair worse.Beau Busch is a former A-League defender with Sydney FC and North Queensland Fury who spent the 2011-12 season with Arbroath in Scotland's Second Division