In the build-up to Russia's Confederations Cup clash with Portugal, home striker Fedor Smolov boldly claimed his team did not need a player like Cristiano Ronaldo.
His opinion was as wayward as his shooting.
In fairness, Smolov's point was that Russia were all about teamwork rather than focusing on one individual as he perceives Portugal do. Anyone who witnessed their run to Euro 2016 glory last July and was at the Spartak Stadium on Wednesday for the most routine of 'away' wins would argue Fernando Santos' men offer so much more.
Yes, it was Ronaldo who grabbed the only goal with a trademark far-post header, but the Real Madrid superstar was far from his brilliant best.
Frequently giving the ball away in deeper positions and making the wrong decisions when he did keep possession, Ronaldo was, for once, merely a piece of the orchestra rather than the conductor.
The fluidity of Portugal's midfield was a joy to behold. The way Bernardo Silva, William Carvalho and Adrien Silva manipulated the ball made Russia look very ordinary, in the first half in particular.
Only the languid Andre Gomes looked out of place, the Barcelona man following up an underwhelming first season at Camp Nou with another performance that flattered to deceive.
The opener came eight minutes in, Ronaldo peeling off the back of a stumbling Fedor Kudriashov to nod a Raphael Guerreiro cross powerfully past CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev whose hopes of a clean sheet on his 100th appearance for Russia ended swiftly.
Ronaldo hammered a free-kick wide and was then denied a second shortly after the half-hour mark when Akinfeev got down well to block a low strike from the former Manchester United man.
Up to that point Russia had offered nothing, with Smolov totally anonymous.
His big moment came and went in a flash four minutes before half-time.
Aleksandr Golovin fired over a fierce cross from the left only for the Krasnodar striker to dangle out a lazy left boot which diverted the ball well off target.
Smolov was honest enough to laugh off any similarities between himself and Ronaldo pre-match. He was right to. As comparisons go, it was racehorse versus carthorse.
At least Akinfeev's big night took a turn for the better with a stunning save five minutes after the break, the 31-year-old adjusting his feet superbly to palm away Andre Silva's close-range header.
And while Russia started to build up a head of steam, Portugal retained a threat on the break, Ronaldo twice squandering chances, firstly with a glancing header and then with a wild shot from the edge of the box.
Even the best have the odd off-night.
Georgy Dzhikya had Russia's best chance, heading over late on before, fittingly, Smolov shot tamely wide deep into stoppage time.
The result meant Russia's chances of advancing to the semi-finals now hinge on Saturday's game with Mexico in Kazan.
It is hoped they will perform better than they did here as the World Cup hosts need to build some momentum before the main event in 12 months.
They cannot claim a lack of support, an excitable crowd of 42,759 - nearly but not quite a sell-out - offering boisterous backing.
But every team needs more than that. Russia are a functional, workmanlike but dour team.
They need a sprinkling of stardust. Smolov was wrong, they do need a Ronaldo.