When Mexico upset Brazil at Wembley in 2012 to claim Olympic gold, it was not just a moment that could stand alone in the country's rich soccer history, but it was expected to lead to an unprecedented era of success at senior level. In addition to Mexico claiming titles at the Under-17 World Cup and the prestigious youth event the Toulon Tournament, success at the predominantly Under-23 Olympic event appeared confirmation that the future for El Tri was brilliantly bright.
Four years on and those riches have yet to materialize. After enduring an almighty struggle just to make it to Brazil, Mexico once again fell at the first knockout round at the World Cup. Amid coaches continuing to be employed on a revolving door basis, Mexico suffered its worst ever defeat in a major tournament this summer when going down 7-0 to Chile in the quarterfinals despite going into the game as one of the favorites for the trophy.
But while the frustrating penchant for calamity continues at senior level, Mexico approaches the 2016 Olympics in Brazil with a squad that provides realistic hopes of defending its gold medal. There is again an exciting generation of young talent, led this time by Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, a winger with Pachuca who has been linked with a move to Manchester United. Two of the other brightest prospects also hail from Pachuca, which has earned plenty of plaudits for its youth development in recent years. Attacking midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro and central midfielder Erick Gutierrez are capable of making a real mark on the men's Olympic tournament.
All three have already been called up at senior level, with Lozano now a regular in the side. And they are not alone in the Olympic squad, chosen by coach Raul Gutierrez, who led Mexico to U17 World Cup glory in 2011. As well as Chivas defender Carlos Salcedo, who has been capped a handful of times, Mexico has filled key holes in the squad with its allotment of three overage players.
Striker Oribe Peralta is back after scoring two goals in the final to beat Brazil two years ago. Leading goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera will provide security at the back, as will left back Jorge Torres Nilo.
But while there is plenty of reason for optimism for Mexico, its group presents ample challenges simply to make it into the knockout rounds. While Fiji should be comfortably swept aside in its second match, third opponent South Korea claimed bronze four years ago and then there is the small matter of Mexico's opening opponent in Salvador on Thursday, Germany.
In the last decade, Germany has been renowned for its youth development, leading to its World Cup triumph two years ago. The country is now embarking on its first appearance in the Olympic men's competition since it took bronze in Seoul in 1988.
The squad at the disposal of regular Under-21 coach Horst Hrubesch is not nearly as strong as it could have been. The likes of Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich and Emre Can won't be in Brazil after playing a part in Germany's run to the semifinals of Euro 2016 this summer. Still, there will be plenty of familiar names. Borussia Dortmund defender Matthias Ginter was the youngest member of the 2014 World Cup winning squad, while two of the overage players, twins Lars and Sven Bender, will offer plenty of senior-level experience in midfield.
Of the younger players, 20-year-old forward Julian Brandt has already caught the eye with Bayer Leverkusen, while Schalke creative midfielder Max Meyer, despite being just 20, has been a regular at Schalke for two seasons.
Prediction: Mexico may well hit the ground running better than Germany in this tournament. Its players not only have more experience playing together but should be fitter, too, given that Liga MX has already had three rounds of fixtures, while the German players are still in preseason. Mexico has ample talent as well, but in an opening match both teams may be not too dissatisfied to walk away with a draw.
Predicted Score: Mexico 1-1 Germany
Goalkeepers: Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Manuel Lajud (Tijuana)
Defenders: Jose Javier Abella (Santos Laguna), Erick Aguirre (Pachuca), Cesar Montes (Monterrey), Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Jordan Silva (Toluca), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres)
Midfielders: Carlos Cisneros (Chivas), Rodolfo Pizarro (Pachuca), Victor Guzman (Pachuca), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Alfonso Gonzalez (Monterrey), Michael Perez (Chivas)
Forwards: Marco Bueno (Chivas), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Oribe Peralta (America), Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo)
Goalkeepers: Timo Horn (FC Koln), Jannik Huth (Mainz)
Defenders: Robert Bauer (Ingolstadt), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Philipp Max (Augsburg), Niklas Sule (Hoffenheim), Jeremy Toljan (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund), Max Christiansen (Ingolstadt), Serge Gnabry (Arsenal), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Max Meyer (Schalke), Grischa Promel (Karlsruher)
Forwards: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Nils Petersen (Freiburg), Davie Selke (RB Leipzig)