Portugal's pool of talented players, many playing at their last World Cup, have a chance to make amends against Poland on Monday, a game that both sides need to win to have any chance of qualifying.
FIFA Player of the Year Luis Figo and several of his team mates have amassed impressive amounts of silverware by playing with top clubs around Europe, but as they are pushing 30, their international careers may be over by 2006.
In what is their first World Cup campaign since 1986, Portugal arrived among the favourites but made a disastrous start by losing 3-2 to rank outsiders the United States.
Now they have to pick up every point they can in their remaining group D games against Poland and co-hosts South Korea.
"It (Poland) is a strong squad, physically and athletically, they are tall players who use counter-attacks," Portuguese coach Antonio Oliveira said before their final training session before Monday's game.
"They also failed to win their first game, for which they were also theoretical favourites," Oliveira added at Chonju stadium in South Korea.
"We have two teams up to doing what they have to do, so the conditions are there for a great game of football, and for enormous will power, by one team or the other, to win."
Portugal players have been saying for days they cannot risk playing an open game against Poland and will likely use a tighter formation than in their opening match against the United States.
If he opts for that strategy, coach Oliveira could field two rather than one in a second line of defence, while playing just three in midfield and a lone striker up front. Paulo Bento will probably join Armando Petit in front of the back four.
At the back, Nuno Frechaut will probably step in for the more defensive Beto Severo on the right, while the tighter formation could mean leaving out either forward Joao Pinto or midfielder Rui Costa, whose distribution was notably below his usual standard against the United States.
Poland packed little punch in their 2-0 defeat against South Korea, but coach Jerzy Engel has few options for improving his side's line-up.
Engel started against the South Koreans with Maciej Zurawski up front alongside Emmanuel Olisadebe but pulled him off at half-time to bring on Pawel Kryszalowicz.
Neither combination made any headway.
Midfielders Piotr Swierczewski and Radoslaw Kaluzny will also need to improve to make headway against the talented Portuguese.
Engel said Portugal, when on form, were capable of going far, as when they reached the semi-finals of the 2000 European championships.
"They started badly just as we did and both teams are in danger of going out. But we've only played one match each and both teams can still go forward," he said.
Portugal (4-2-4): 1-Vitor Baia; 18-Nuno Frechaut, 2-Jorge Costa, 5-Fernando Couto, 23-Rui Jorge; 20-Armando Petit, 17-Paulo Bento; 11-Sergio Conceicao, 10-Rui Costa, 7-Luis Figo; 9-Pauleta.
Poland (4-4-2): 1-Jerzy Dudek; 20-Jacek Bak, 15-Tomasz Waldoch, 6-Tomasz Hajto, 4-Michal Zewlakow; 21-Marek Kozminski, 7-Piotr Swierczewski, 10-Radoslaw Kaluzny, 18-Jacek Krzynowek; 11-Emmanuel Olisadebe, 9-Pawel Kryszalowicz.
Referee: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
Linesmen: Igor Sramka (Slovakia)
Wagih Farag (Egypt)