Things were almost so very different. Mauricio Pinilla's shot in the dying seconds of extra time rattled the Brazilian bar with Julio Cesar beaten. In a match of minuscule margins, that moment was key. Inches lower and there would be talk of a 'Mineirazo' to match the 'Maracanazo' of 1950, when Brazil lost at home to Uruguay in the final fixture to bring about a state of national grief.
The woodwork intervened again in the shootout to deny Chile's Gonzalo Jara and send the Belo Horizonte fans into raptures. Jara had to score and had he done so, La Roja looked like potential winners, having held the hosts on home soil over 120 minutes and then forced their way back into the shootout from 2-0 down.
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Hulk appeared to have atoned for his mistake in the second half, but his strike was ruled out as the assistant referee adjudged he had brought the ball down with his upper arm. Replays proved inconclusive, but Brazilians were furious.
Chile enjoyed more of the possession after that, but failed to take advantage in attacking areas. Alexis, in particular, was guilty of poor decision-making. But Brazil was worse, lumping long balls forward and barely able to string several passes together. What had happened to Jogo Bonito?
Scolari's side went on the front foot in extra time and Chile had goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to thank for several saves. And after Chile almost won it through Pinilla, Brazil also came close at the other end.
Willian went wide with his penalty and on another occasion, his miss and Hulk's spot kick straight at Bravo would have seen Brazil miss out, but they live to fight another day in a competition they genuinely believe is their own.
It still might be. World Cup winners often come through tough tests like this en route to the trophy. But after the euphoria dies down, Scolari has much to address to improve this team - and restore the fine football needed alongside the champions' courage they showed on Saturday.