The Junior All Whites face a tough challenge to qualify out of their group at the Under-20 football World Cup, following a 4-0 defeat to the USA in Auckland.
Thunderstorms and lightning may have cleared up before kickoff at North Harbour Stadium, but the signs were ominous from the start for the New Zealanders.
They fell a goal behind after just six minutes, a goalmouth scramble from a corner steered home by pacey US left winger Bradford Jamieson in front of the 15,678-strong crowd.
The quick and well-organised Americans simply stretched the hosts all game, over-running their opposition in midfield, and never allowing them any quality time in possession there.
In turn, the Junior All Whites were simply unable to pressure the Americans enough when they were on the ball - despite a 50-50 share of the ball across the entire match.
The Americans' second goal before half-time came after New Zealand goalkeeper Oliver Sail couldn't hold a through ball, which fell to Emerson Hyndman, the Fulham midfielder easily passing it into the net.
Their third score was a clinical finish from the edge of the penalty box after half-time from striker Paul Arriola, while the fourth and final goal on 83 minutes was another defensive lapse - a simple back pass allowed to roll across the six yard box and to the grateful boots of Rubio Rubin.
The USA win assures them of a place in the next round with a maximum six points, while the Junior All Whites are likely to finish no better than third in the group, thanks to Ukraine's 6-0 demolition of Myanmar in the early game in Whangarei.
That thrashing of the winless Asian minnows puts the Ukrainians solidly into second, on four points with a big +6 goal difference - thanks to their nil-all draw with the hosts in Saturday's sold-out tournament opener.
So in order to make the Round of 16, New Zealand now have to beat Myanmar on Friday in Wellington, and then hope to become one of the four best third-place finishers.