"Sport teaches humility. It also teaches us of ourselves."
The comments of President Aleksander Kwasniewski on Polish television were among the more philosophical reactions to the end of a World Cup dream.
Most commentators appear to agree, however, that the most important lesson to be learned from defeats to South Korea and Portugal is that the present national team can go no further.
Gazeta Wyborcza headlined its match report: "Poland go home!"
It continued: "The team may pack and come back home, shamefaced and humilated.
"It was impossible to win this match with nine players. Hajto and Bak played hopelessly. Poland's participation in the World Cup finals was a great misunderstanding."
Jan Tomaszewski, the former goalkeeping legend, backed the coach but not the players.
"I think our present players should be told that their time has passed," he said. "Engel should stay.
"Neither South Korea nor Portugal played well against Poland. I dread to think what would have happened if they had played better."
Grzegorz Lato, the top scorer at the 1974 World Cup in Germany, agrees. "Again Poland played dreadfully," he said.
"I am afraid this team reached its potential by qualifying. They were not prepared to play in the World Cup finals, either physically or mentally.
"It was obvious to everybody that they lack basic footballing skills. I am as sad and dissapointed as any fan in Poland."
Dariusz Wdowczyk, formerly of Celtic and now coaching Widzew Lodz, concurs.
"These players were not able to do anything more. They lack footballing abilities," he said.
"Neither Capello nor Hiddink could have done better with these players. I'm only sorry for Dudek, who was left hopelessly alone."