Qatar get things right off the pitch
If only the spectacular fireworks and pyrotechnics that launched the 16-nation Asian Cup in Qatar had put some fire in the bellies of the hosts' national team.
The opening game was something of a damp squib but for this observer it proved the perfect opportunity for a first view of what the World Cup might feel like when it is here in 2022.
On the day Fifa president Sepp Blatter steered our thinking firmly in the direction of a winter World Cup in the Gulf State, Qatar took on Uzbekistan at the Khalifa stadium in Doha.
It's a fine sight, a splendid open bowl of a stadium, with a capacity of around 50,000, set on a vast site in the capital.
Next door stands the impressive Aspire Tower, 300 metres tall, looking like a giant Olympic torch, erected in time for the 2006 Asian Games which were staged here.
Close by is the Aspire Centre, an elite sport training complex that would be the envy of any Football Association in the world. Bayern Munich have been enjoying their winter break here.
It's hard to imagine a better set-up, with manicured pitches indoors and out and state of the art gymnasiums. It's home to Qatar's national football academy. On the evidence of the match I saw, the school of excellence has much work to do before 2022.
The game was pretty much a sell-out, the crowd a mixture of ex-pats from all over the world, including a strong Indian contingent and Qatari nationals.
Some of the rituals are familiar, including the anticipation of arrival drawn out by the traffic jams around the venue.
Most people seemed to drive and public transport, if there was any, wasn't much in evidence. The huge car parks around the stadium complex were rammed with four-wheel drives, spilling out fans decked in scarves and carrying flags in the maroon and white of Qatar.
All were in good spirits but none had taken spirits. There were no walking wounded with beer injuries here. Qatar's not dry - you can get a drink in the hotels, but forget bars and pubs. Water, tea, coffee and vegetable-based sodas are your lot.
On the plazas surrounding the stadium the micro-industry of football tat was on sale - hooters, flags but not much in the way of replica shirts. Perhaps they wouldn't look too great over the traditional Arab dress.
Inside the stadium there was the usual chaos of people in the wrong seats but everything around me was amicably resolved.
There were just a handful of stewards visible and the only police seemed to be directing the traffic. Obviously no-one expects trouble, helped no doubt by the fact that everyone's sober.
Qataris clearly don't do banners. The only decoration around the retaining walls belonged to the handful of Uzbeks, who by the second half were drowning out the futile attempts of the small group of home fans armed with megaphones, trying to whip up the crowd.
The pre-kick-off Mexican waves were about the limit of communal activity. There was little singing, not much chanting, a modest amount of cursing and quite a lot of despair at the abject performance unfolding on the pitch.
The local man sitting next to me, with his five children, one asleep, the others impeccably behaved, bemoaned the fact that the Qatari team, with its access to vast resources, was being outplayed by the relatively impoverished Uzbeks.
Money can't buy you everything. It can get you a respected French coach, tempt an Ecuadorian and a Brazilian to take up citizenship and pull on the Qatar shirt but it can't compensate for the fact that this is a country with a small population and therefore, a limited talent pool.
The academy will clearly make the best of the human resources it has and there are some promising players but there's a mountain to climb if the hosts are to make it out of the group stage or even avoid humiliation in 2022.
At 2-0 down and well beaten after 75 minutes, most of the locals had seen enough, and voted with their feet.
My friend with the children predicted no-one will show up for Qatar's next group game against China.
Those that do will have pleasant conditions for watching a match at this time of year. The temperature felt around 18 or 19 degrees, perfect for playing in, comfortable for watching, ideal for a major international football tournament.
In the summer, those sitting in the roofless open areas of the ground would fry in the 40 degrees of heat, or spend most of their time queuing at the overcrowded counters to buy water.
As thing stand, the plan for 2022 is to create a series of air-conditioned stadiums where it's a steady 26 degrees for players and spectators alike.
Fine if it's achievable and lovely once you're inside but that's assuming you make it without collapsing with heat exhaustion on the way in.
The option of holding the World Cup in January makes much more sense, leaving aside the obvious difficulties posed for the European leagues.
I'd be amazed if, once the 2022 World Cup committee is constituted, they don't put in a request to Fifa for permission to reschedule - and then spend the next 11 years building a team, rather than a series of monuments to engineering ingenuity.