Mexico's friendly against Peru wasn't a harsh wake-up call, but it was at least a friendly reminder that bad things will happen if you keep hitting the snooze button.
El Tri hardly impressed in the 1-1 draw, but the fact coach Miguel Herrera was somewhat experimenting with his lineup and continuing to rotate players makes the disappointing performance sting less.
It's not that there weren't bright spots, but the concerns outnumber them and remind Mexico that even a team not a part of South America's upper echelon like Peru has the ability to match up well with the North Americans.
Many commentators here in Mexico have acted as though the group match against Bolivia is a given win, and since El Tri topped Ecuador in a recent friendly, they're as good as through. Herrera's men haven't fallen into such silly thinking, but Wednesday served as a stern warning against letting that mentality seep into the squad.
Mexico's goalkeeper, Alfredo Talavera, kept the team in the match in the first half, and No. 1 Jesus Corona can do the same. But the defense must show better than it did.
Rafa Marquez is working into the squad, but he needs to get up to speed quickly if he's going to serve in the center of the three-man back line. The central defenders also will need more defensive help from the wing backs. With George Corral and Adrian Aldrete just joining from the Liga MX final, it was again Gerry Flores on the right and Efrain Velarde on the left. But Flores was unable to replicate the showy attacking exploits he displayed in the first preparation match against Guatemala, and Velarde provided little. Aldrete must get some minutes against Brazil.
Poor wing back performance put undue pressure on the central defenders, but it would still be a surprise to see Herrera stick with the three he had at the back. Though Juan Carlos "Topo" Valenzuela was the goal scorer, his late inclusion in the side as an injury replacement for Pachuca's Miguel Herrera indicates he's probably not in the Copa America plans.
At least Valenzuela came through with a goal, though, something Atletico forward Raul Jimenez couldn't do. After months of inaction, he may still be shaking off the rust, but this team will be relying on Jimenez to score goals.
One man who will be in the plans for the tournament is Jesus "Tecatito" Corona. The FC Twente midfielder needed just more than 10 minutes to force his marker Pedro Requena into two yellow cards and an early exit. The first of those bookings led to the Luis Montes free kick that Valenzuela headed in for the equalizer. In fact, Corona and Montes together with Javier Guemez in the midfield looked like a much better unit than the initial trio of Juan Carlos Medina, Marco Fabian and Javier Aquino, something that no doubt didn't escape the manager's notice.
Though there was plenty for Mexico fans to be concerned about Wednesday night, the team that actually contests the Copa America will look different. Not only will there be a different starting XI, there will be a Mexico team well aware of what South American sides are capable of — even ones that aren't Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Colombia. It's one of the big boys up next, with a friendly against Brazil approaching before the start of the competition.
The alarm isn't ringing, but Mexico better wake up when it does.