What now for world champions Spain?
The dust has finally settled on Spain's post-World Cup celebrations.
The bunting has come down, the litter finally cleared away from the banks of the Manzanares where more than half-a-million people welcomed the team on the their return to Spain and most hangovers have receded, even if many football fans across the country are still walking around with smiles on their faces.
So this seems like a good moment to ask, where do Vicente Del Bosque and his merry men go from here? Mexico is the initial answer.
Spain play their first match as world champions on Wednesday with a long trip across the Atlantic to face the team that made the last 16 in South Africa. Sadly, it is a game that very few people, particular the core group of Del Bosque's squad, really want.
"I think we are all still tired," reflected Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, hinting that the aftermath of the World Cup was still taking a mental toll even if the physical one was starting to recede.
Most of the home-based players have only just returned to training with their clubs in the last week or so after an extended vacation following their exertions in South Africa.
Barcelona have made public their unhappiness with the game in Mexico. With the first leg of their Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla coming up on Saturday, they thought Del Bosque's inclusion of seven Barca players in his squad was excessive.
Nevertheless, Del Bosque is wise enough to know that, despite their success in South Africa, it is now time for Spain to get back to business.
The start of qualifying for the European Championship looms in September and Del Bosque now has to try to refresh the parts of a national team that only a coach can reach.
At least he can count himself fortunate that the Euro 2008 winners will kick off their Euro 2012 campaign with a relatively easy match against Liechtenstein on 3 September.
For the Mexico trip, Del Bosque has left out only five players from his World Cup winning-squad - three because of injury - but perhaps has squandered the chance to introduce some new blood and legs as well as the opportunity to give more of his World Cup winners a chance to recover.
"We are always very concerned and sensitive to the needs of the clubs, it also must be so, but I believe there are sufficient grounds to have a lot of the World Cup squad at this game," said Del Bosque.
"I don't want to get accused of unfairness to one club or another and this is a serious international match because Mexico is celebrating its bicentennial. I have always believed that the squad which best represents us are those men who are the reigning world champions. Nor do I have a signed contract [with the clubs] that requires me to do one thing or another."
Barcelona and, to a slightly lesser extent, Real Madrid, Del Bosque's former employers, have been put in their places.
The injured players missing the trip to Mexico from the 23 whose place in Spanish history is assured are Real Madrid's Raul Albiol, who, along with the Liverpool pair of Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, has been left out because of injury.
Andres Iniesta, the man who clinched the Cup for Spain, has also been left out because of 'special circumstances', which basically means that Del Bosque has bowed to Barca pleas to give him a break, while Javi Martinez , Athletic Bilbao's impressive young midfielder, has dropped down to captain the Spain Under-21 side against Finland on Wednesday.
Villarreal's Bruno Soriano could make his international debut against Mexico
To fill some of the gaps, Del Bosque has recalled Villarreal's Euro 2008 stalwart Santi Cazorla, who was not fully fit ahead of the World Cup, and Osasuna's left-sided defender Nacho Monreal, who won two caps last year. Villarreal midfielder Bruno Soriano has also been called up and could make his international debut.
Looking ahead, Del Bosque has some key problems to resolve.
Persistent fitness concerns over Torres mean the manager will have to find a new partner for David Villa. The likes of Llorente, Pedro or even Barcelona's Bojan Krkic could get plenty of playing time in a Spanish jersey during September and October.
It was a surprise to many, including me, that Krkic did not get the nod for the Mexico game but that might have been one blow too many for Barca to handle and still keep the exchanges between themselves and the Spanish Football Federation reasonably dignified.
Del Bosque, I am sure, will also take a critical eye to some other aspects of Spain's displays in South Africa. Yes, they were deserved winners but they were far from flawless.
Spain were an effective and creative force on the field for most of their matches but the result in each of their four games after the group stages was still only 1-0. Plenty argued this was hardly a knockout blow to the rest of the world even if they did lift the trophy.
Carles Puyol also seems to have lost some of his appetite for pulling on a Spanish vest and, although he recently demurred from announcing his international retirement and said that he would stay on until 2012, there must be serious doubts about whether he will get the 10 games he wants to become only the fourth - or fifth, if Xavi gets there first - Spanish player to reach his century.
However, central defenders have never been one area where Spain has been lacking.
Just as Pique replaced Marchena in the starting line-up in the wake of Euro 2008, so Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Dominguez and Athletic's Mikel San Jose, the latter a product of Liverpool's development programme and, like Dominguez, an outstanding under-21 international, are waiting in the wings to take Puyol's place.
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