The sun was shining and Copacabana was heaving more than usual for a Monday. You could always still kid yourself. But then the vision of a shrinking Fifa Fan Fest, which from the top of a building resembled an ant colony being dismantled by its own inhabitants, brought it all back home: the 2014 World Cup was over and the biggest Brazilian comedown was officially on – no matter that Rio de Janeiro’s most famous promenade, its bars, restaurants and car rental agencies still had a cacophony of foreign accents as a soundtrack.

Technically, the hangover started last Tuesday, when the dreams of a triumph on the pitch were shattered more coldly and professionally than any Germanic stereotype during the Seleção’s 7-1 semi-final defeat in Belo Horizonte. The result triggered a hubristic atmosphere that last Sunday felt even more painful as Germany and Argentina walked onto the pitch at the mythical Maracanã.

That was the moment it dawned on Brazilians that the tournament was coming to an end without the Seleção playing a single match on their most sacred footballing temple thanks to the brilliant plan to parade them across the country in a mixture of populism and fear of what an already heavy psychological weight could have become.

The night before, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men had ended their campaign by offering little resistance to Louis van Gaal’s Holland. The 3-0 scoreline was nowhere as bad as their capitulation a few days earlier but the sense of melancholy was enhanced by the eerie indifferent atmosphere in Brasília – the booing and the ironic bullfighting-like chants to salute the Dutch passing proficiency never really threatened to reach the levels heard in Belo Horizonte, a city that unlike the Brazilian capital actually has a football culture. While many fans did not buy too much into the patriotic hype around their team’s chances in the tournament the ending just seemed sadistic.

At least Brazilians escaped what could have felt like an eternal defeat in the banter game. Germany, not neighbours and über-rivals Argentina, won. That and the fact this tournament defied all the apocalyptic predictions by actually being pretty good on and off the pitch lifted spirits at the last minute. At least for a while. In the next few days we can expect the return of stories quoting all sorts of psychologists discussing feelgood factors or assorted post-tournament blues. The same professionals that were at hand when Brazilians were interested in knowing why their players couldn’t stop crying on the pitch. The party is over and Brazil have a lot of reckoning to do.

First, of course, the disarray in the Seleção. As Monday came to a close, everybody in the country knew Big Phil had departed the job he had taken 18 months ago with great hopes of steering Brazil to their sixth trophy and the first on home soil, but the news had barely been confirmed by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and still took over 12 hours to ratify the news broken the night before by TV Globo, CBF’s ever-so privileged media partner. The noise coming from the footballing authorities has been confusing and guessing the name of the person who will inherit this poisoned chalice from Scolari has never been this difficult – especially because Scolari used to be the name everybody would throw into the ring ever since he won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002.

Brazilian football ended their big party as the host who had a few too many drinks and passed out just before everybody else had a good time. While in other countries a semi-final finish would hardly be deemed a failure, this is the country where a generation of footballers turned into pariahs after losing the 1950 tournament final in the same Maracanã the Seleção avoided at all costs in 2014.

With their reputation obliterated, the Brazilians cannot even hide behind Neymar’s martyrdom after being kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Zúñiga in the quarter-final. They were looking pretty pedestrian even when their biggest pin-up could still try to bail them out. The shambolic campaign will take a long time to be erased from supporters’ minds; the humiliation at the hands of Germany perhaps never will.

Brazil, nonetheless, were good hosts and that helped soften the blow a little. The fact the country did not burn up in flames after the Belo Horizonte debacle is a positive point – in fact, the amount of internet memes shared around by Brazilians on Facebook shows a promising maturity and a feeling that we are not simply just hypnotised by rolling balls. Still, it has created an identity crisis and now comes the tough part of recovering from the loss of their shine and the mission of delivering some legacy from this World Cup.

There are 12 brand new arenas that are will take a lot of creativity to be filled on a regular basis with something else than merely a league with average attendances of less than 15,000 spectators per game. Heartbreak on the pitch needs to be addressed with changes in the youth system and even in the way Brazilians think and play the game.

In two years’ time the Olympics will land in South America for the first time and the scrutiny should resume as soon as the international media representatives indeed go home. The feeling, though, is that Brazil and Brazilian football shall never be looked at the same away again after this tournament. For better or worse.