NAYPYIDAW - Two years ago, Singapore bagged four bronzes and a surprise gold from Fu Mingtian in the women's singles.
But the country is now faced with its worst showing at the SEA Games in 16 years, after four of the Republic's five entries - two in the singles and two in the doubles - crashed out in the opening rounds in Myanmar on Tuesday.
They included former women's team silver medallist Gu Juan who was targeting a gold in the women's singles this time round.
The world No. 20 lost 13-21, 17-21 to Indonesia's Manuputty Bellaetrix, who is ranked 15 spots lower. "I played very roughly while she was very patient," said the 23-year-old Jiangsu native.
On Tuesday, it should have been the opportune moment for the nation's shuttlers to stamp their mark in the region as powerhouses Indonesia and Malaysia had opted not to send their best.
For instance, in the men's singles, two-time defending champion Simon Santoso was rested by Indonesian selectors while Thailand's world No. 7 Boonsak Ponsana is involved in the ongoing BWF Super Series Finals. World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia had also skipped the biennial showpiece in recent years and, like the Thai, is playing in Kuala Lumpur.
But Singapore Badminton Association senior technical manager Chua Yong Joo downplayed their absences, insisting the field was still "very strong".
"Even though the top guns are not here, they brought their next-best talent," he noted.
"Lack of motivation or preparation was certainly not an issue for our team."
Luck too was arguably not on the side of Singapore's top player Derek Wong in the draw. The world No. 44 fell 9-21, 21-13, 17-21 to Thanongsak Saesomboonsuk, who is ranked 12th.
"I've lost to him before so he was one of the toughest draws I could get here," the 24-year-old said of the Thai second seed.
"We went point-for-point in the rubber set but he was more composed when it mattered."