RIO DE JANEIRO - The nation whose attacking football has thrilled the world for generations was left heart-broken on Tuesday after Brazil's humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.
Brazil has hosted one of the most memorable World Cups ever but the country's dream of winning on home soil was not the only thing shattered by a ruthless Germany in an extraordinary match in Belo Horizonte.
The South American country's pride took a battering as the carnival atmosphere that had swept over the samba nation gave way to a state of shock and disbelief following Brazil's heaviest ever international defeat.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari issued a heart-felt apology to a country that had spent more than US$11 billion to host the World Cup and invested its heart and soul in making the tournament a success.
"My message for the Brazilian people is this. Please excuse us for this performance," he said.
"I'm sorry that we weren't able to get to the final - and we're going to try to win the third place match. We still have something to play for."
Germany played superbly but were aided by a woeful Brazilian defence, which conceded five goals in a devastating 18-minute burst in the first half.
An unmarked Thomas Mueller got the first from a corner after 11 minutes before Miroslav Klose struck to become the World Cup's all-time leading scorer with 16 goals.
Toni Kroos grabbed two in three minutes before Sami Khedira added a fifth in the 29th minute as boos rang out around the Mineirao stadium and young children in the crowd started to cry.
German substitute Andre Schuerrle struck twice more late in the second half before Oscar scored a last-minute goal that was of little consolation to the five-times world champions, who had waited 64 years to try to bury the ghost of their 1950 final home defeat by Uruguay.
"I just wanted to make my people happy," said a sobbing Brazil defender David Luiz.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't. I'm sorry, I'm sorry to all Brazilians, I just wanted to see them smile, everyone knows how important it was."