Our soccer writers answer three key questions following the All Whites' 5-1 defeat to Mexico.
1) In hindsight, was Ricki Herbert's tactics to sit right back from the first minute the right move?
Kris Shannon: Sadly, they probably were. If the All Whites implemented any sort of pressing game they would've been picked off with ease. Of course, the end result was the same. But, along with the defensive banks, they needed to at least attempt to retain possession, instead of lumping it forward at every chance. Yes, I'm looking at you, Jeremy Christie.
Steven Holloway: Sit back and defend, yes. Lump possession away as soon as they won the ball, no. Defending deep and with numbers was their best shot at keeping the score down and for 30 minutes it worked until two defensive calamities changed the game. But with no premium on keeping the ball once they got it, we were always doomed.
Daniel Richardson: Partly. The tactics were fine to an extent but I had bigger issues with the personnel and formation employed. Playing Jeremy Christie, Tony Lochhead and Leo Bertos was always going to be a gamble due to their lack of match practice lately and it showed. There were no issues with sitting back but the goals came from individual errors, notably a lack of marking, while, despite having a blinder, Glen Moss was poor on one of the goals.
2) What now for the second leg with Wood, Bertos and Vicelich ruled out?
Kris Shannon: The tie over virtually over so why not give New Zealand fans a glimpse of the future? 4-4-2 with Tuiloma and Roux playing fullback. Chris James showed enough to warrant a place in midfield alongside McGlinchey, while Rojas clearly needs to start. Brockie/Barbarouses on the other wing and Smeltz and Fallon up top. Whether Ricki Herbert - a staunch believer in experience - agrees is another question.
Steven Holloway: Ricki's last hoorah. Herbert will lead a young, fresh All Whites side out for his last game in charge with nothing to lose. Herbert will deploy an attacking game plan and try to win back the Wellington crowd. Expect Rojas, Tuiloma, Smeltz and Roux to play major roles.
There can be a glimpse in to the future. It will go against every coaching grain in Ricki Herbert's body but he needs to employ a young, attacking squad with players like Marco Rojas and Storm Roux starting from the opening kick of the ball. The formation needs work too. A traditional back four would be a better option with Roux on the right, Ben Sigmund and Andrew Durante in the middle and stand-in skipper Tommy Smith at left back.
3) What needs to happen now for the All Whites to reach the 2014 World Cup?
Kris Shannon: Ryan Nelsen to come out of retirement? Winston Reid to show miraculous healing powers? Still probably not enough. Maybe if the Mexican cartels had a bundle on their national team to miss the World Cup? That might do it.
Steven Holloway: Big Mexican squad party tonight, cocaine involved. A few players make a few poor decisions and fail the pre-match drugs test before the second leg.
Daniel Richardson: A miracle. It would be nothing short of a miracle if the All Whites were to somehow overturn this deficit in Wellington next week when you consider Winston Reid is injured and Chris Wood is suspended. Somehow, the All Whites would need two early goals next Wednesday at the Cake Tin to give them a slice of belief.