Goal concerns remain for qualified Spain
World champions Spain will defend their World Cup crown in Brazil next year after sealing qualification with a 2-0 win over Georgia in Albacete on Tuesday.
Victory meant La Roja finished three points ahead of France in Group I and extended their amazing run of not losing a World Cup qualifier since 1993 for another campaign.
However, unlike their last two qualifying campaigns for the 2012 European Championships and 2010 World Cup when Vicente Del Bosque's men won all 10 of their games, there have been a few hiccups along the road to Brazil.
Late equalisers conceded to France and Finland in back-to-back home games early on in the group meant Spain travelled to Paris in March needing to win to keep automatic qualification in their own hands.
They did so with a 1-0 win at the Stade de France thanks to Pedro Rodriguez's goal and a couple of fine saves late on by Victor Valdes.
That win not only ensured there was little doubt Spain would carry their lead until the end of the campaign, but also demonstrated that this side can still perform when it matters most.
However, doubts remain, particularly after the hammering handed down by Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup in June.
Whilst the Confederations Cup shouldn't always be taken as an exact dress rehearsal for the main event -- Spain lost to the USA in the semi-finals four years ago before returning to conquer the world in South Africa a year later -- the competition did offer an insight into some of Spain's deficiencies.
The principal fear is that after five years of dominating the world at club and international level, the spine of the Spanish side has simply been worn down by the rigours of competing consistently at the top of the game.
Inspired by a passionate home crowd, Brazil were simply too big, fast and strong for the world champions at the Maracana four months ago in a display reminiscent of Bayern Munich's 7-0 aggregate destruction of Barcelona a few weeks previously.
Somewhat scared by that experience, Del Bosque has tried to introduce some fresh faces to his squad, particularly those who triumphed at the Under-21 European Championships earlier this year.
The midfield pair of Isco and Koke have already embedded themselves in the senior squad and there is every chance Thiago Alcantara and Asier Illarramendi could also force themselves onto the plane to Brazil come the end of the season.
However, the most interesting development has been the recruitment of Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa.
A true number nine is what Spain have lacked in recent years as David Villa and Fernando Torres have suffered from a lack of form and fitness.
Costa is yet to make his debut for La Seleccion but seems set to be called up for the friendly dates in November and Del Bosque admitted last month that having convinced the Atletico Madrid man to switch allegiance from his native land, he would feel almost compelled to take his to the World Cup.
The 24-year-old is currently the leading scorer in La Liga ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with 10 goals in eight games.
Moreover, he seems exactly the kind of strong, aggressive and clinical forward they have lacked since Villa was at this best in South Africa three years ago.
After Friday's unconvincing 2-1 win over Belarus, Del Bosque lamented his side's tendency to try to kill the game with possession rather than more goals
Indeed, Spain's goal return of 14 in eight games is the lowest of any of the European nations to have topped their qualifying group.
And with Brazil now firmly on the horizon, Del Bosque is hoping Costa's homecoming will spark more wild celebrations for his adopted nation than the land of his birth.