Rio de Janeiro - On the first anniversary of the 7-1 World Cup hammering by Germany, coach Dunga admits that Brazil face a hard climb back from an epic humiliation that provoked nationwide soul-searching.
"We all have to improve," he said in comments on the Globo Esporte sports news site.
"We need the humility to know that we have to work to recover that dominance of world football, but we also have to admit that it's not that easy."
Dunga was speaking late Monday after meeting former national team trainers for a post-mortem on Brazil's most recent fiasco -- shock elimination from the Copa America last month at the hands of minnows Paraguay.
But the real hurt for football-mad Brazil dates back a year this Wednesday when the national side collapsed in the semi-final of the World Cup it was hosting and had been under huge pressure to win.
Instead, Germany went on to claim the crown previously held by Brazil five times -- a record achievement that has helped raise football from mere passion in this country of 200 million to something at the core of the nation's soul.
Dunga put the July 8, 2014 loss on a par with Brazil's 1950 World Cup final defeat to lowly Uruguay in Rio's grand Maracana stadium.
That event was so traumatising for the all-confident Brazilians that it is still talked about and even has its own name -- "the Maracanazo."
The Germany calamity "is a date that will leave a mark, just like 1950, and just like the five times that Brazil was world champion," he said.
Even if Brazil's yellow-shirted players were once synonymous with talent and winning ways, Dunga says fans must get used to a less glamorous reality.
"We have to see the positive side. We can't always win," he said. "We have to try to go forward in every way we can."
Just how to do that is something that Dunga -- a World Cup winner -- and the Rio brain trust of former football luminaries are trying to work out.
"We have to rediscover the identity of our football, starting with bottom club divisions, which are really responsible for forming players," the Brazilian Football Confederation said in a statement.
The rot in Brazil's famous "jogo bonito," or "beautiful game" was exposed during last month's quarter-final flop at the South American championship, the Copa America, in Chile.
Dunga blamed a virus that he said had sickened 15 members of the squad, even if not all players seemed to agree this was true.
The real footballing sickness, most analysts say, was the absence of creativity in a once glittering team and over-reliance on one of their few world-class stars, Neymar, who was sent off against Colombia after headbutting an opposing player.
One fierce critic is 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo, who says: "If we don't have serious people in charge of Brazilian football, a long time will go by without becoming champions."
Another former international, Cafu, said Brazil's opponents "have lost respect... They no longer fear us."
But not everyone thinks the Brazilian golden touch is gone.
Mario Zagallo, a former Brazilian World Cup winning player and manager, was quoted in Brazilian media saying there is nothing much to worry about.
"We are on the same level as other teams, we have everything to win the next World Cup," he said.
Falcao, a Brazilian superstar of the 1980s, said the team does need change, but nothing as difficult as discovering a new Pele.
"We have to search for above-average players, not necessarily superstars," he said, pointing to the victorious Germans.
"The German team that was world champion last year has no superstar, but five players above average."
Next up for Brazil are the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in October. Even these matches are now no longer seen as the formality they once would have been.