Brazil's Confederations Cup dilemma
History shows that the Confederations Cup brings two dangers for a Brazil coach - he can take it too lightly or he can take it too seriously.
Emerson Leao was guilty of the former lapse eight years ago. Brazil's 2002 World Cup campaign was already in problems when he took charge, and his reign brought no instant improvement.
Fearful of failing to qualify for the main event, the dress rehearsal in hardly seemed important. Leao was specifically told that the 2001 Confederations Cup was not a priority, and so he took a highly experimental squad.
As a result Brazil were held to goalless draws by Canada and Japan, lost to France in the semi-final and went down to Australia in the third and fourth play-off.
Thinking that he had little to worry about - the tournament, after all, was not important - Leao got a shock when he returned home and was sacked at the airport. Luiz Felipe Scolari took over and the next time Brazil went to Japan and South Korea it was to win the World Cup.
Coaching Brazil is like being in a boxing ring. You must protect yourself at all times.
Current coach Dunga will not be making Leao's mistake. While making it clear that World Cup qualification is the priority, that has not stopped him bringing his full strength squad to South Africa for this year's Confederations Cup.
A few months back it was thought that he would give a breather to some of his players who were jaded after the European season. It didn't happen and Dunga is taking no chances.
With Brazil leading South America's World Cup qualification table it might look like an unnecessary precaution.
The squad, though, was named before the recent wins over Uruguay and Paraguay. If those matches had turned out differently then the pressure would be on, and, like Leao in 2001, the Confederations Cup might provide a convenient excuse for a change of coach.
But if Dunga has not repeated Leao's error, he would also be well advised not to make the same mistake as his immediate predecessor Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Just before the 2005 Confederations Cup Parreira was wrestling with a perennial problem for coaches of the Brazil national team - how to accommodate the best available talent into their starting line up.
Adriano had come through strongly as one of the most feared strikers in the game and space was found for him alongside Robinho, who was deputising for the injured Ronaldo.
And with Kaka and Ronaldinho at the peak of their form, the so-called 'magic quartet' was born - the collection in one team of four of the most devastating attacking talents on the planet.
The system was introduced in World Cup qualification with mixed results - a thrilling 4-1 win over Paraguay followed by a 3-1 defeat to Argentina. Could they get away with the magic quartet in Germany in 2006? The 2005 Confederations Cup would decide.
Again, results were mixed, with Brazil losing to Mexico in a group game. But in the final they tore Argentina apart, a victory every bit as convincing as the 4-1 scoreline.
This was the match that effectively decided that Brazil would take the 'magic quartet' formation to the World Cup.
In the euphoria some important points were overlooked. Argentina were under strength, physically on their knees, but still tried to take the fight to Brazil, weaving their midfield patterns but leaving themselves open and playing into the hands of the superb Brazilian counter-attack.
Parreira's side took their opportunities wonderfully well. But it was all a long way removed from a World Cup game.
Come the real thing a year later, against opponents less keen to offer the counter-attack, Brazil never looked right. Top heavy and unbalanced, they went out in the quarter finals, the 1-0 scoreline doing scant justice to France's superiority.
Afterwards Parreira confessed he had ended up contradicting his own football philosophy by selecting a side that was a throwback to 4-2-4 - and he made this mistake because he placed too much importance on the final of the Confederations Cup.
The competition has plenty of points of interest. It serves as valuable reconnaissance exercise and it is a chance for individual players to push their claims.
But more than anything that happens on the pitch, perhaps the most important aspects of the Confederations Cup are operational - the test it provides for stadiums and infra-structure, the knowledge and experience that the organisers acquire on the route to next year's main event.
UK users can watch all of the Confederations Cup games live on the BBC Sport website, while television coverage is on BBC Three as well as the red button.
Comment on this piece in the space provided. Any other questions on South American football to email@example.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag;
Q) Having watched a lot of South American football over the last few years, and following up your blog of last week I have been really impressed by Chile striker Humberto Suazo. He has a good work rate and a great scoring record. I understand he is playing in Mexico now and was wondering if you think he could tell me anything about him, could he make the step up to play in Europe ? and weather any teams had been showing an interest in him?
A) Suazo, currently of Monterrey in Mexico, was a real late developer. A previous coach of his, Claudio Borghi at Colo Colo, did wonders for his confidence, stressing that he was much better than he looked. Suazo has indeed been an excellent goalscorer in Latin American football (37 caps, 13 goals) - but at the age of 28 it's debatable whether he has a future in Europe.
I might be undermining him, but I'm not convinced that he would be up to it physically There are times when I've seen him take a step up, and he's struggled - Lucio usually gets the better of him when he plays Brazil, for example. I'll be fascinated to see how he gets on next year in the World Cup.
Q) My question is about Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo, who has quite a consistent scoring record across a few leagues (although not on the international stage). Do you think he is the kind of player who could make the step up to a higher standard of league again?
A) I'm not convinced that he can step up. He's a gangling left footed centre forward, he's scored plenty of goals in Paraguay, Argentina and now in Portugal with Benfica. But I think you're right to bring up his international record - 3 goals in 24 games. He was booed off the field by the Paraguayan crowd when he was subbed last week against Chile, which obviously does nothing for his confidence. But at the highest level he does look slow and cumbersome.