A question mark hung over Craig Levein's future as Scotland manager on Tuesday night as hopes of salvaging their World Cup qualifying campaign were shattered by a 2-0 defeat to Belgium.
The Scots headed into the match in Brussels sitting second bottom of Group A and still seeking a first win which was desperately needed to boost their slim hopes of reaching Brazil in 2014.
But second-half goals from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany just a minute apart meant a dramatic victory against one of the group favourites failed to materialise on another bitterly disappointing night for Scotland.
Belgium looked dangerous right from the first whistle and a Gary Caldwell error allowed Dries Mertens to burst into the box. But goalkeeper Allan McGregor came to the rescue and blocked superbly at both attempts by Mertens to deny the home side the opener early on.
After a period of intense pressure from the Belgians, a mis-hit shot from James Morrison caused more problems than it should have for Thibaut Courtois. The goalkeeper looked more convincing when he prevented a curling free-kick from Shaun Maloney from finding the top corner.
At the other end, Nacer Chadli was given enough space to unleash a thunderous strike from 25 yards that whistled inches past the post, before Moussa Dembele and Mertens both saw efforts fall wide of target.
With half-time approaching, Scotland threatened from another free-kick, with Kris Commons forcing a decent save from the keeper on this occasion.
Both sides made a change at the interval, with Jamie Mackie replacing Commons and Dembele making way for Eden Hazard.
The Belgians hit the woodwork within five minutes of the restart when Benteke threw himself in front of Toby Alderweireld's cross only to see his header clip the crossbar on the way over.
The breakthrough came for the Belgians after 69 minutes when Benteke bulleted home a header at the back post, eventually beating the impressive McGregor. Belgium doubled their lead a minute later when Kompany collected from Hazard on the edge of the area and rifled an unstoppable shot into the back of the net.