The Matildas endured a sobering return to international action, being outclassed in a 5-2 defeat by Olympic champions Germany in Wiesbaden.
In their first match since qualifying for the Tokyo Games, new coach Tony Gustavsson had a painful afternoon on Saturday watching his Australian side chasing shadows for much of the afternoon against the world's No. 2 team.
Even two late goals from Emily Gielnik couldn't hide the gulf in class between the two sides as the Matildas really did look like a team who hadn't played an international together for 13 months.
With their defence in disarray and attack blunt, Australia were lucky just to be one goal down at half-time to Sjoeke Nusken's 10th minute strike, having had not a single attempt on goal themselves in the opening stages.
Yet the Matildas were outplayed even more comprehensively after the break with further goals from Kathrin Hendrich, Jule Brand and Laura Freigang not flattering the hosts as they forged into a 4-0 lead, a tally which could easily have been doubled.
Gielnik pulled one back in the 82nd minute and after Germany had made it five through a thunderous Linda Dallman strike in stoppage time, the Brisbane Roar striker immediately nabbed a consolation header to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering look.
Australia did have a difficult preparation with their charter flight from their Netherlands training base having been delayed but the hosts had been even more inconvenienced, having had four players ruled out late because of a COVID-19 scare.
Yet apart from Gielnik's late double and a five-minute spell at the start when the Matildas opened brightly, Germany, who won the Olympic title in Rio, looked in a different league with Australia's superstar captain Sam Kerr hardly getting a look in up front.
In a match played behind closed doors because of COVID restrictions, it was a proud occasion for 18-year-old Mary Fowler, who was given her first start -- the most notable selection in Gustavsson's attack-minded first lineup.
But defence was the order of the day with the visitors unlucky to lose Karly Roestbakken early to injury, thus forcing Beatrice Goad to endure a baptism of fire.
Aivi Luik failed to clear her lines, allowing Nusken to fire home early but Lydia Williams produced a couple of fine saves and Goad made one wonderful last-ditch tackle to stop the Germans taking a more commanding lead into half-time.
Looking passive and penned into their own half for much of the game, Australia were outshot on goal nine attempts to nil in the first half. It was a fair reflection of the fare.
When the Germans' fine captain Sara Dabritz then picked out Hendrich to fire home left-footed just after the break, the hosts really turned the screw.
They brought on the exciting teenager Brand, who scored one and made another within minutes of making her bow and she also the crossbar as the woodwork twice spared the Matildas further damage.
Chelsea star Kerr had no change out of the well-drilled German rearguard but they got sloppy when Gielnik was pushed forward and robbed them to pull one back and she also nodded home her ninth international goal right at the death.
It promises not to get much easier for the world No. 7-ranked Matildas on Tuesday when they play a Netherlands side who beat the Germans the last time out.