Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland have been left with a mountain to climb if they want to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after drawing against Group C rivals Austria.
Despite the manager's optimism, the players were left deflated after David Alaba's injury-time strike denied them three points. The Boys in Green were just seconds away from a victory which would have seen them leapfrog Tuesday's opponents into second place behind Germany but hopes of competing in their first World Cup since 2002 have been dealt a major blow.
Two goals from Jon Walters, the first a penalty, had put Trapattoni's side in charge following Martin Harnik's opener for Austria. But Alaba scored the late equaliser to make it 2-2, sending Austria second in the group and leaving Ireland fourth.
It was a bitter pill to swallow as the draw felt like a defeat and stand-in captain John O’Shea blamed a lack of experience for the concession of the late goal.
"It's massively frustrating," O'Shea told Goal.com. "To get ourselves back into the game so well and it looked like we were going to pick up a massive three points."
He continued: "The frustration is incredible as we had chances in injury time to kill it off with corner kicks and throw ins but we gave Austria have a sniff by not keeping the ball.
"We need to learn from this experience, especially the young lads to kill off games and just keep the ball in the last few minutes," added the Sunderland defender.
With many of the players left deflated and depressed by the late concession of what could prove to be a vital goal, the media were left waiting for answers as the majority dashed out alternative exits.
However, Derby County striker Conor Sammon took the time to reflect on a competitive debut which ended in bitter disappointment.
"After a good result in Stockholm, we came into the game knowing what we needed to do and credit to the lads for going in 2-1 up at half time after conceding early. It's so disappointing and deflating to have picked up just the two points instead of four," said the former UCD striker.
Sammon went on to admit that he was pleased with his individual performance and on another night he and his team mates could have been out of sight if things had gone differently.
He said: "I was pleased with how I played, the manager obviously said before the game to make my presence known and use my height to win flick on for [Shane Long's] pace in behind.
"I really enjoyed it and was delighted to make my first competitive start in a game like this but it's just unfortunate that it's ended in disappointment."
With Shane Long now suspended for the next qualifier against Faroe Islands and Kevin Doyle's international future uncertain, Sammon could well be given another opportunity to impress in June but he isn't taking anything for granted.
"I'm not sure," he said. "There is a lot of competition in the squad and the manager keeps an eye on club form, so I'll have to work hard."
Stoke City striker Jon Walters was in a similarly downbeat mood despite scoring twice to give Ireland a lead at the interval.
"We said last week, that four points was the target from these two games and we would have been more than happy with that," said the 29-year-old. "But we have to pick ourselves up for the Faroe Islands game in June here as it's a must win."