After Germany's impressive World Cup campaign came unstuck against a stunning Spain side, the players and coaching staff are trying to temper their disappointment with optimism, as the young side dreams of future glory.
It wasn't just the fans who suffered during the defeat
"Right now I have absolutely no desire to play the third place playoff," captain Philip Lahm, visibly despondent, told reporters after Germany's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Spain.
Lahm, like most of the Germans, referred to Spain as a great side, and as favorites to win the entire World Cup, even though Vicente del Bosque's men have qualified for their first ever World Cup final.
"My compliments to the Spaniards," German coach Jogi Loew said magnanimously. "I think they will win it all. In the past two or three years they have been simply the best."
"They are such a skilled team; so composed on the ball that we were forever chasing them. We didn't get to the tackles in time and used up all our energy at the back."
Schweinsteiger: 'Even if everyone says we played a great tournament, we are feeling really down'
"We were chasing the ball too often," defensive midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger concurred, adding that the team had not delivered as good a tactical performance as in the previous two matches.
Schweinsteiger, whose star has risen stepping into injured captain Michael Ballack's shoes as midfield general, was also keen to look to the positives that could be taken from the young squad's surprising performance in South Africa.
"Of course, our team has a great future, but we have seen what a top team is. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
No word on Loew's future
Striker Lukas Podolski, a famously inefficient club player who always seems to produce his best in a German jersey, also voiced a concern about the future of coach Jogi Loew, which was first raised long before the tournament.
"I hope he stays because he has done a lot for German soccer over the past few years. We have developed well as a team, as you have seen in the tournament, and I hope we can continue with such a coach," Podolski said.
Loew: 'Offensively they (Spain) were difficult to control. They have shown they can beat anyone'
Podolski was competing in his second World Cup, but many of his teammates, including Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller, Sami Khedira, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng, were competing on the world stage for the first time in South Africa.
"We have a lot of young players," Podolski said, "and a lot of young players on the bench or still playing for the under-21s. In the future, I think we have a very good team. Other teams don't have this."
'The future is ours'
German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer probably summed up the problems his team faced best of all, perhaps not surprisingly, given the position he plays on the pitch where observation is so easy.
"We didn't get forward enough and created too few chances," Neuer surmised. "Perhaps we were lacking a bit of courage. In almost every game we scored in the first half, boosting our confidence, but today it was different. Then Spain took matters into their own hands and started creating a string of good chances."
Neuer: 'Right now, there's massive disappointment. But we know we played a great tournament'
Now the team will try to recover from this setback - after sparking euphoria with their comfortable wins over England and Argentina in the previous rounds - and prepare for the third place playoff game against Uruguay on Saturday. Should they win, Europe would secure a one-two-three at the World Cup, contrary to most people's predictions.
"The Spanish have great players and were the better side today," said the president of the German football association, Theo Zwanziger. "We noticed the absence of Thomas Mueller today. But it has been a great World Cup. I'm sad for the team, but not disappointed."
"With a really young squad, we earned a place among the top four in the world," he said. "The future belongs to our lads. The Spaniards are already four years ahead of us."
Author: Mark Hallam
Editor: Nancy Isenson