George Burley still has every faith in Scotland's ability to qualify for the World Cup - but admits the task is already far more difficult after only one match.
Ilcho Naumoski's goal after only five minutes proved to be decisive in Saturday's Group Nine opener in Macedonia, meaning the Scots now head to Iceland on Wednesday in desperate need of a win to kick-start the campaign.
Burley's own record also looks far from impressive at the moment, with no wins from four games after succeeding Alex McLeish back in January.
'The friendly games were a build-up,' he said. 'This game was a test for us. In the first half we never got to grips with a difficult game but in the second half we did so we will build from there.
'We've got seven games left and we take it on. We still have the possibility to qualify but it makes it tougher. It's going to be a very competitive group and teams will take points off each other.
'Macedonia will make it hard for any team in those conditions so I think it will be very closely contested, like it was on Saturday.'
Burley was more than satisfied with the second-half performance in Skopje and believes the reason for a lethargic start to the match was simple.
'We conceded a goal after five minutes,' he said. 'It wasn't a free-kick but it was given and we were 1-0 down. It was different conditions, the pitch was hard, they are a decent side at home and they put us under pressure.'
Burley is well aware Scotland will have to come out of the blocks quickly in Reykjavik in a bid to avoid a repeat of Saturday's outcome.
He added: 'We had a chat at half-time and I felt we were going a bit deep, we weren't putting them under enough pressure, we wanted to get up the pitch a bit higher.
'We did that and they responded well. It was a hard game, especially after conceding early, but we pushed on in the second half. When you are away to quality opposition you don't want to concede an early goal, which we did.'
Burley is keen to make the most of his more talented players but admits he could tinker with his system ahead of the Iceland clash.
'We are playing with our best players and trying to get the best out of the squad,' he said. 'We look at it for every game, Iceland is a different game, and we might vary it slightly.
'We are trying to get the best out of the players and they all gave it everything, especially in the second half. So we will be looking to try to take the second-half performance into the Iceland game and hopefully pick up three points.'
The Kenny Miller-James McFadden partnership has now been deployed twice in the Burley era and has not yielded a goal.
The Scotland boss claimed he was encouraged by opportunities that were carved out in Macedonia but will be well aware Craig Gordon had the better saves to make on the day.
'I thought we had a couple of chances,' said Burley. 'We are trying to get the best attacking system and that's something we will keep looking at.'
Hibernian striker Steven Fletcher will be added to the squad for the trip to Iceland after scoring twice for the under-21s on Thursday, while Stephen McManus and Graham Alexander both have knocks after Saturday's game.