Guus Hiddink has worked with a disparate group of talented players before - with Holland at Euro 96.
On a player-by-player basis, that Dutch side of Kluivert, Davids, Bergkamp and Overmars was far superior to this World Cup's Korean team.
But in terms of success, Hiddink's current crop come out on top by a mile.
That Dutch side was rent asunder by egotism and allegations of racism, the stars refusing to subsume their own needs to those of the team.
South Korea, in total contrast, have gone into every game utterly united, ready to give their all until the final whistle.
So why have the big names failed to produce?
In one or two cases, injury drew their sting. Zidane came back into the French team too late and too below-par to save them from a first-round exit; Beckham was never more than two-thirds match fit.
More often it was a case of the maestros being denied the time and space they needed to work their magic.
Figo barely had time to settle on the ball in Portugal's opening game against the US before John O'Brien and DaMarcus Beasley were closer to him than the number on his shirt.
Del Piero escaped Mexico's defence to take Italy through to the second round, but then Hong Myung-Bo and Kim Tae-Young barely gave him a sniff as Italy crashed out to Korea.
A combination of smart tactics and high levels of fitness mean that nations without prima donnas can now match their glamorous rivals as never before.
Flashes of inspiration
The exception to the rule? Maybe, just maybe, Brazil.
While Felipe Scolari has, like Mario Zagalo eight years ago, brought traditional European virtues of organisation to his side, they have still relied on flashes of inspiration to see them through.
England were beaten by Ronaldinho's run and Rivaldo's first-time shot; the latter put paid to Belgium.
Edmilson scored the best goal a centre-back has ever produced against Costa Rica and Ronaldo shook off the cobwebs to squeeze the remaining life from three opponents.
But this is not the Brazil of old, the 1982 vintage of Zico, Socrates and Falcao or the 1970 classic of Pele, Rivelino and Jairzinho.
Scolari was happy to sacrifice Juninho's flair for Kleberson's running to win the quarter-final against England.
Success, if it comes, will be due as much to an unfamiliar work ethic as it is golden glimpses of genius.