The Road to Rio may be looking rocky, but for Scotland's women the prospect of spending next summer in Sweden is inching ever closer.
Anna Signeul's side are barely on the radar, never mind subjected to the scrutiny which has accompanied Craig Levein and his players, but quietly and resolutely they have given themselves a chance to qualify for their first major finals. Euro 2013 may not have the cachet of Brazil 2014, but if Scotland do make it to Sweden it would be no less of an achievement.
The tale of Japan's footballers flying to the Olympic Games – the men luxuriating in first class and the women, the world champions, slumming it in the cheap seats – neatly encapsulates attitudes. But as they departed on their budget airline to Wales last night, there wasn't a trace of resentment, and certainly no sense of inferiority, among the Scottish squad.
Ahead of them lies a Group 4 qualifier against Wales at Llanelli on Saturday. One point would ensure Scotland of at least a Euro 2013 play-off next month. Should they win handsomely there is the prospect of qualifying automatically for Sweden by beating group leaders France at Tynecastle next Wednesday.
As the public inquiry into the men's failure to beat Serbia or Macedonia continued, Signeul and her captain, Gemma Fay, spoke of their confidence in getting a positive result on Saturday night. They lead an impressive group of players, most of whom train five nights a week despite holding down full-time jobs.
"We're a small nation and have limited resources, but we never use that as an excuse," says Fay, the Celtic goalkeeper who is a partnership manager with sportscotland. "The only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself. If you refuse to put limits on yourself, you can go as far as you want.
"That is the ethos and philosophy we have within the team. Not just the team, but every player who comes into the system. You can be what you want to be, but you have to put the hard work in."
Nevertheless, there has to be a recognition that there is still a gap between the Scots, who are ranked 22nd in the world, and the top tier of nations including France, Germany, the United States and Japan, but it's one which is steadily closing.
As Signeul points out, her side was overreliant on the goals of Julie Fleeting in previous World Cup and Euro campaigns. Deprived of the star striker there is more balance, with a remarkable 14 of the 17 outfield players named for the Euro double-header having scored in Scotland colours.
Even more encouragingly, the young players breaking into the side are raising the bar further. Hayley Lauder, the midfielder, has been a stand-out for her new club in Finland, while a graduate of the national performance centre in Stirling, Lisa Evans, recently scored her first goal for one of Europe's top sides, Turbine Potsdam.
The pair now make a living from playing football, as do the Arsenal duo of Jenny Beattie and Kim Little. As women's football grows in popularity – the Olympics provided another giant step in that direction – there will be further opportunities for Scottish players. Eight of the squad play for Glasgow City, who can't pay wages but have a set-up which is professional in every other way.
Yet, what marks this squad of players out is something money can't buy. It was best exemplified in the home Euro qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at Tynecastle in April. Losing 1-0 with four minutes left, they found the means to score twice.
That win was testament to character on a night when not much else had gone to plan. "When you see you have winners on the pitch, that's when you see you have a bright future," says Signeul ahead of a set of matches which could end a major championship drought stretching back to 1998.
Nevertheless, the coach is aware that for all the undoubted improvement nothing tangible has yet been achieved. The ideal outcome of the Welsh and French matches, two wins and a goal difference of five, would secure a place in Sweden – but on this week of all weeks the priority is to safely negotiate the first hurdle in Llanelli.