Just a week ago, Spain, as the defending World Cup champion, looked like it would maybe remain champion this year in Brazil. It was, in fact, considered a fairly reasonable bet.

That will not happen. For the fourth time only in the 84-year history of the World Cup, the reigning champion among the world's soccer nations goes home to an early, sad exit in the first round of play.

By halftime of Wednesday's match against Chile, things looked grim for the Spanish, who looked ready to be eliminated from the Cup after only two games. After losing to the Netherlands 5-1 last week, the team's vulnerabilities and inadequacies were the talk of the soccer world.

Spain is following a path that has been trodden rarely in the past: most recently in 2010, when  the defending champion Italians were knocked out in the first round of play. The 1962 World Cup champion Brazilian team also lost in the first round in 1966, as did the 1998 World Cup champion French team in 2002.

The Netherlands match was always going to be a difficult one, but the utter trouncing that Spain suffered at the hands of Robin Van Persie and crew sent shockwaves through the sport and revealed that this is not the Spanish national team of 2010.

The era of Spanish dominance in international football seems to have passed, after the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Cup victories.