With the Olympic Games exit door looming, the Hockeyroos instead found a window of opportunity to climb back into semi-final contention.
Australia's 3-1 defeat of women's hockey's world No.3 Germany was a show of mental strength and attacking bravado which resurrected their hopes in a difficult Pool B.
Trailing by a goal inside the first 10 minutes and staring at early elimination, the Hockeyroos overpowered the in-form Germans with breathtaking attack - and importantly took the chances presented.
The United States' even more unexpected 1-0 upset of world No.2 Argentina in the game beforehand opened the door for Australia to re-enter the race for a top two spot and qualification for the medal rounds.
The Hockeyroos took full advantage, with coach Adam Commens believing the manner of the win could be an important stepping stone in his young team's development.
"It puts us back in the tournament, and I really believe we're only starting to see the beginning of this team and tonight was a display of the potential they have," Commens said.
"We can be fantastic, and we can be at moments not great. But if we play like we did tonight, we'll win more games than we lose."
That would be enough for the Hockeyroos to qualify, as they are now among four teams in the group with one win and live hopes of making the top two to qualify for the semi-finals.
New Zealand are clear leaders in Pool B with six points from two wins after beating South Africa earlier on Tuesday.
Unlucky to lose their opening match to New Zealand, the Hockeyroos' fate appeared doomed when they fell behind to a well-worked penalty corner banged in from close range by Germany's Katharina Otte.
But the Hockeyroos dominated the rest of the first half and deservedly levelled things up through Hope Munro on 20 minutes after neat lead-up from Megan Rivers and Emily Smith.
They could have been further in front but for the brilliance of German goalkeeper Yvonne Frank who made three important saves to keep the scores level at halftime.
Australian goalkeeper Toni Cronk also pulled off some heroics in a free-flowing opening half, saving twice from Natascha Keller just prior to halftime.
The Hockeyroos came out storming in the second half and took the lead 12 minutes in when Anna Flanagan put wings and a V8 on a drag flick to power Australia to a 2-1 advantage.
Five minutes later, Fiona Boyce got the last touch on a superbly worked penalty corner to make it 3-1.
Australia's match on Thursday against the United States is now critical, with both sides among the teams on one win.