By Stephen Fottrell
BBC Sport, Dublin
Djamel Mesbah was one of six debutantes for Algeria against Ireland
Algeria's 3-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland has given their coach Rabah Saadane a sobering wake-up call with only two weeks to go until his team's World Cup opener against Slovenia.
The euphoria of qualifying at the expense of bitter rivals Egypt has now turned into a cold reality for the Desert Foxes.
There is serious work to be done if they want to prevent their stay in South Africa from being a brief and painful one.
Saadane's decision to delay his team's first World Cup warm-up until just a fortnight before kick-off now appears to have been misguided as his team looked rusty and disorganised in Dublin.
And the coach acknowledged afterwards that his team has much to do to avoid defeat in South Africa, not least at the hands of England, and improve on their abject performance against an Irish side who have not qualified for the World Cup.
Saadane also conceded that Giovanni Trapattoni's men should be the ones travelling to South Africa on the evidence of the home side's performance against his men.
"Ireland are a formidable team - they were superior to us and deserve a place in the World Cup," he said.
"But England will be a tougher team than the one we faced tonight."
Granted, injuries have not been kind to the Algerian boss in the build-up to the finals.
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane needs to gel his new team together
Some key players were again missing on Friday, but his policy of introducing new recruits to the set-up so close to the finals may well backfire.
The Algerians included six debutants against Ireland, with one or two staking their claim for inclusion, while others struggled to make an impression.
Fifa's rule changes have enabled Saadane to draft in some French-born Algerians into the squad.
One such beneficiary, midfielder Adlene Guedioura had a confident debut, and was unlucky not to score Algeria's only decent chance when he rattled the bar with a header.
The 24-year-old enjoyed an excellent season on loan at English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers and was rewarded with a three-year contract just last week.
But the rest of his fellow recruits may well have benefited from more than just the two warm-up games scheduled, the second of which is against the United Arab Emirates in Germany next weekend.
Defender Djamel Mesbah, who struggled to deal with Robbie Keane's surging runs into the box and paid the price when he conceded a penalty, which the Irish captain duly converted.
On a night of many plusses for the home side, Ireland looked a far better side to their guests.
Ireland were superior to us and deserve a place in the World Cup
Algeria coach, Rabah Saadane
They confidently played the ball down the channels and through the middle, while the visitors appeared uneasy and frustrated at times.
One of the team's more established players, Nadir Belhadj, was among the most frustrated, as he attempted to link up play and pass the ball around.
He was repeatedly met with resistance by the Irish rearguard, while striker Rafik Djebbour also looked lively enough but was unable to carve out a proper opportunity.
Djebbour also admitted after the game that the squad will need to make full use of their time before the beginning of the tournament to improve.
"We still have 10 days to prepare," he told BBC Sport.
"This result was negative but the most important thing is that we will be ready for the World Cup."
Long known for their resilience, which they drew upon to progress to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals in Angola, the Algerians are also known only too well for their inconsistency.
One player who is consistent only in his ability to keep his own loyal fans' hearts in their mouths is the tall, peroxide figure of goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, who manages to sum up all of his team's traits in one.
A shot-stopper with clear ability, Chaouchi fails to inspire confidence any time he comes for a ball.
He was punished for it, again by Keane, who lobbed the keeper expertly after Chaouchi flapped at a Damien Duff cross.
The 25-year-old certainly has a presence at the back and may be the best option Saadane has at his disposal.
But Chaouchi would do well to work on that aspect of his game and concentrate less on the gamesmanship which earned him a ban in Angola, and which was also simmering in this friendly.
Saadane, meanwhile, must now make a snap judgement on which of the newer recruits to gamble on.
He will be hoping more established players such as Madjid Bougherra and Hassan Yebda recover from injury in time for a Slovenia game, which many see as their best chance to take all three points, in a group that also includes the USA.
He will also have to try to instil some more of that resilience back into the squad and remove the ever-present air of unpredictability.