France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan admits he and his team-mates ran out of ideas in the disastrous defeat to Mexico which looks like bringing their World Cup to a premature end.
It is a failing which has been levelled at Raymond Domenech's team far too often. Having limped into the tournament on the back of a controversial play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland, courtesy of Thierry Henry's infamous handball, Les Bleus have struggled for inspiration in South Africa.
An opening goalless draw against Uruguay was shrugged off on the basis they had started the last World Cup sluggishly but eventually finished runners-up. However, there was no hiding the problems against the lively Mexicans.
"It was a moment of failure of a whole group because us we did not know how to present an answer at the moment when it was needed,'' said the Lyon midfielder, who will be suspended for the final group game against South Africa after collecting his second booking on Thursday.
Captain Patrice Evra agreed with that assessment, with the Manchester United defender adding: "There's no doubt we lacked concentration. The whole team is at fault for this defeat – all 13 players who played.''
A draw between Group A leaders Uruguay and Mexico on Tuesday will be enough to send France home early, but Toulalan said even if that happened it would not be his worst experience with the national team.
That came two years ago when they finished bottom of a group which contained Holland, Italy and Romania at the European Championships.
"My worst disappointment remains Euro 2008,'' said the 26-year-old. Mathematically there remains still a possibility [France can qualify].
"Even if all is not finished everyone knows from now on a miracle would be necessary for us to progress.''
In the wake of the Mexico defeat the France team has been roundly criticised by some of the country's greatest players.
Bixente Lizarazu, a World Cup winner on home soil in 1998, said "the French team was well off course with their heads in a bucket''.
Legend Zinedine Zidane reserved his criticism for Domenech, whose six-year reign will end with France's elimination as he is to be replaced by former Bordeaux coach – and Zidane's team-mate in the triumphant 1998 side – Laurent Blanc.
The former Real Madrid midfielder said the coach had blundered by dropping Yoann Gourcuff, denying the side creativity. "The coach made the decision but I don't agree with it," he said.
"France did not play well, but they were against a very good team. Mexico were superior to France especially physically.
"I am disappointed because France did not have a single shot on goal and that should be the least to be expected.''
France's World Cup-winning coach Aime Jacquet did not just blame Domenech for the problems. "Raymond Domenech has his share of the responsibility. It was him who made the project; he set up everything he wanted, and quite simply it failed,'' he told France Football.
"I also sincerely believe that many of the players need to ask themselves some questions. We feel like a small footballing nation and it hurts,'' Evra added. "There's nothing to say other than it's a catastrophe,'' he added.
"I really thought we had learned the lessons from 2008. I didn't see this defeat coming. I'm dejected.''
Evra had said just a day before the match against Mexico that he felt France were united and could go places at this World Cup.
"The problem is that we are not a great team on the pitch,'' he said after finding out he had probably been wrong.Reuse content