Before kick-off at the Luzhniki, all the talk was about the member of the great Spain side of 2010 who was absent - however it was those that remained ended up under the harsh spotlight.
After nine major tournaments with only one game missed, Andres Iniesta was dropped by Fernando Hierro for their last 16 clash with World Cup hosts Russia, replaced by the ineffectual Marco Asensio.
Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos kept their places at the centre of defence, despite Spain conceding five goals in their three group matches.
Andres Iniesta was left on the bench for only the second major tournament game in his career
However it was a fellow member of the class of 2010, Gerard Pique, who made the killer error
Iniesta, Pique and Sergio Ramos leave this World Cup amid errors and ineffectiveness
Morocco and Iran proved to be tougher than anticipated and Portugal had the CR7 factor, but given the pressure on goalkeeper David De Gea's place, Ramos and Pique escaped unscathed.
Immediately Russia attempted to pressurise, via the direct runs of key midfield cog Aleksandr Golovin which worried Pique and Ramos from the first whistle.
It was Ramos, with his trademark brand of physicality, tenacity and borderline bullying, that forced the opening goal. If he had not forced Sergei Ignashevich into an unwitting own goal, the Russian - 39 next week - would surely have given away a penalty. On occasion, he can still strong-arm with the best of them.
The downside to Ramos' game came with a needless free kick given away on 23 minutes after raising his arm to Artem Dzyuba. The brutish Russian forward is one of very few players in the modern game who can regularly win battles - and free kicks - against Ramos.
Artem Dzyuba had the measure of Ramos, while Russia's defence was impenetrable
However, Russia could barely get on the ball enough to put the defence under any pressure - the occasional set piece or shot from distance all they could muster in the fleeting seconds they had possession of the ball.
Pique was having one of his quieter afternoons - until a moment of rank stupidity and arrogance.
It was a stonewall penalty. He leaped for a header to clear a corner, arms raised for