The king is dead. Long live the king. Spain bowed out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage in amazing fashion, after having been tipped to top a group that was supposed to be straightforward for La Roja to conquer – on paper at least. Vicente del Bosque’s men ended being humiliated by the Netherlands and embarrassed by Chile at their own passing game, confirming their premature exit.

With a meaningless game against Australia remaining, it is clear that the RFEF – Spanish FA – will need to sit and go over things in a bid to find out just exactly what went wrong that ended the nation’s golden age of football dominance. Yet, the signs were visible for the whole globe to see, most of them dating back to almost a year ago.

30th June, 2013. Brazil had just beaten Spain 3-0 at the Maracana stadium to be proclaimed Confederations Cup champions. It was a game in which the natives managed to go head-to-head with their visitors from start to finish. At the whistle of 90 minutes, the images spoke volumes: the Spanish players were left contemplating how things got so ugly, so fast.

It is not a coincidence that the golden era of Spanish dominance coincided with Barcelona’s dominance of the football world between 2008 and 2012. During this period the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were displaying some of their best brand of football. Ever since Josep Guardiola left the club and the subsequent appointment of the late Tito Vilanova and Gerardo Martino, the Blaugrana have been a shadow of their former selves. Xavi can no longer continue with a demanding rhythm of two games a week, Busquets is lost without his midfield partners and Pique looks to be distracted. Only Iniesta has managed to keep relatively stable form in the post Euro 2012 years.

Of the 23 men that travelled to Brazil this summer, six of them were Barcelona players, in contrast to newly-crowned Spanish champions Atletico Madrid’s four. Del Bosque might have been contemplating why he chose to overlook Adrian Lopez or Gabi, who made history this season with the Mattress Makers both domestically and in Europe.

Lopez and Villa might have provided the coach with a more suited alternative up-front option than Diego Costa. The RFEF went to war and back in a bid to nationalise the Brazilian-born striker, who after a handful of games with his national team-mates, has clearly shown that he is unable to sync with the rest of the group and play the kind of football Del Bosque wants. Having been an excellent proponent of Atletico Madrid’s swift counter-attacking brand this term, his talents were greatly wasted in an ill-suited style that opponents were so accustomed to, and the fact that he had a whole nation booing him out of the stadium did not help his cause either.

By the end of their 5-1 demolition at the hands of the Netherlands, the whole staff chose against pinpointing individual mistakes, but Del Bosque opted to discard Xavi and Pique for the next game against Chile. It hardly mattered. Xavi’s substitute, Busquets, cannot and could not provide the attacking spark that the midfield kingpin does – weren’t Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas or Juan Mata better suited for this matter? Meanwhile, Javi Martinez seemed ill-suited to partnering Sergio Ramos in the centre of defence.

Then there’s Iker Casillas. The custodian was at the centre of controversy as he nearly cost his club their much-anticipated tenth Champions League, while he was at fault for at least two goals against the Netherlands and the second against Chile. The Mostoles-born custodian knows that the general tide is turning against him, both for club and country, and the next Spanish manager must consider his berth as undisputed starter for the Seleccion, while Carlo Ancelotti might also ponder cementing Diego Lopez as his undisputed first-choice goalkeeper in all competitions for next season at Real Madrid.

The Spanish FA must surely contemplate the continuity of Del Bosque. It is clear that the former Real Madrid boss is at fault for sticking to some of his old guard and insisting on tiki-taka. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have shown this term that success can be achieved without Barcelona’s brand of possession football, as they scooped the league, Copa del Rey and Champions League between them, while the Catalans were left without any major trophies this term.

It seems as if there is a general feeling that the people in charge will want to keep Del Bosque. General Secretary of the RFEF Jorge Perez recently admitted that they will ask the manager to carry on should he want to terminate his contract. “Del Bosque has not yet resigned. If he does, we will ask him to continue.”

Should the manager continue until his contract expires in 2016, a shake-up needs to be considered. In a recent poll by Spanish daily newspaper AS, it was proposed eight players should be discarded, with names such as Casillas, Xavi and Xabi Alonso topping the pile. The latter himself admitted that things cannot continue as they are for the soon-to-be former world champions, admitting it is the end of their football dominance. “It's a completely unexpected failure. We've made lots of mistakes, we've lost a bit of our know-how, and we've paid for it with our solidity that had helped us win so many games. Things are going to change. Eras end with defeats… and this was a painful defeat.” Nobody put it in better terms than the deep-lying midfielder. 

Now comes the time for reflection.