Semi-finalists just last season, the young Scots were dismantled by a sublime second half display from Sweden which saw goals from Jorgen Pettersson, Markus Lantz and two from Fredrik Ljungberg wipe out the own goal which left them trailing.
The Scotland Under-21 manager, Tommy Craig, has had to perform serious surgery on a side shorn of 13 players in just six months.
Two of Sweden's team, Joakim Persson and Jorgen Pettersson, already earn their living abroad, in Italy and Germany respectively, but it was the less vaunted Scots who almost took the lead on 20 minutes when Swedish keeper Eddie Gustafsson dropped Jim Hamilton's cross. Full-back Karl Corneliusson thumped the ball away before Paul Bonar could pounce.
Persson induced similar panic in Colin Meldrum 10 minutes later, with a delicate chip which just floated over the bar as the Scottish goalkeeper furiously back-peddled trying to reach it.
However, Scotland went ahead after 40 minutes when Harper burst down the left wing, delivering a low cross which the unfortunate Swedish defender Marcus Johannesson diverted past his own keeper.
The young Scots could have increased their lead two minutes into the second half but Gustafsson's save with his legs from Bonar was to prove vital. Petersson cancelled out the Scots' advantage in the 49th minute when the Borussia Monchengladbach striker reacted superbly, after his first effort had been blocked by Gary Naysmith, to rifle a fierce volley into the roof of the net.
Markus Lantz then added further punishment, delivering a right foot shot from 14 yards to provide the perfect finish to Wahlstedt's cut back.
Fredrik Ljungberg stretched Sweden's advantage even further in the 69th minute, taking Persson's pass, then twisting to fire a left foot shot past Meldrum from 20 yards.
Scotland: Meldrum (Kilmarnock); Jupp (Wimbledon), Naysmith (Hearts), Rowson (Aberdeen), Dods (Hibernian), Ritchie (Hearts), Gillies (St Mirren), Harper (Hibernian), Hamilton (Dundee), Boyeck (Rangers), Bonar (Raith Rovers). Sub: McCulloch (Motherwell) for Bonar, 61.
Sweden: E Gustafsson (Norrkopping), Corneliusson (Orgryte), Mellberg (Degerfor), Johannesson (IK Oddevold), Jorsson (Malmo), Persson (Atalanta), D Andersson (Malmo), Lantz (Helsingborg), Ljungberg (Halmstad), Pettersson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Walstedt (Gothenburg).
Referee: M Tokat (Turkey).