Scolari's naive tactics severely exposed
Blame Scolari for his tactical naivety, fielding lightweight Bernard against Germany's heavyweights
(Thomas Mueller 11, Miroslav Klose 23, Toni Kroos 24, 26, Sami Khedira 29, Andre Schuerrle 69, 79)
Luiz Felipe Scolari lost his two most accomplished professionals and overcompensated with the most amateurish strategy witnessed at this World Cup.
A proud, bullish coach from Brazil's hardy south, he doesn't take kindly to being told what to do and enjoys flying in the face of conventional wisdom.
Louis van Gaal is cut from a similar cloth, but the Holland coach doesn't confuse tactical wisdom with tactical vanity.
The world was convinced that the Selecao had only two viable options to address Neymar's injury and Thiago Silva's suspension; either a straight swop with Willian for Neymar or an extra man in central midfield to match Germany's aggression and numerical superiority.
Scolari came up with a third that didn't exist. He threw in a kid to drown without a lifebuoy.
Bernard was called up to replace Neymar, presumably on the grounds that he was a hometown hero raised in the Atletico Mineiro academy.
The scrawny 21-year-old certainly received the loudest cheer before kick off, but a World Cup semi-final hardly equates to a popularity contest with clap-o-meters. Even if it did, Bernard hardly had the X-factor.
His first season at Shakhtar Donetsk was a traumatic one, with the Brazilian midfielder sending home his family at the height of the Ukrainian conflict and angling for a move away from the club as soon as possible.
Bernard had slipped below the German radar, adding a surprise to his inclusion, but his anonymity stemmed from his mediocrity.
He was hardly Brazil's best-kept secret, a hidden gem that Scolari had privately polished in their training camp.
Bernard was a lightweight among heavyweights; an irrelevance in a formation that accentuated Brazil's weaknesses and underscored Germany's midfield superiority.
Scolari remained faithful to the 4-2-3-1 philosophy that had produced stuttering football, rather than anything resembling samba (that came from the Germans).
Brazil's early emphasis on Marcelo and Maicon slipping diagonal balls through to the supposedly weak spots behind Benedikt Hoewedes and Philipp Lahm was quickly exposed for its obvious shortcomings.
Ironically, Marcelo left too much space and Germany targeted the flanks on the counter-attack, ruthlessly taking advantage of Brazil's undermanned midfield.
In the press conference this morning, angry local journalists demanded to know how Scolari planned to hold back the Teutonic tide of Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira with only two midfielders when the French failed to halt the Germany trio with three.
But the unapologetic coach refused to concede any tactical mistakes on his part.
"I thought we could close the midfield with the line-up we had," he said, shrugging his shoulders, clearly hurting but defiant to the last.
"But, after the first goal, we panicked and everything went bad for us.
"But I have no regrets. It's a choice a coach who has to make the decisions and I have to live with the consequences."
But Germany's bullying of Fernandinho bordered on the sadistic. At fault for at least three of the goals - it was hard to keep up - the Manchester City midfielder missed Yaya Toure almost as much as he missed the ball.
Always caught between two opponents, he lost possession, misplaced passes and tried to plug the dike with a single finger until the tidal wave overwhelmed him.
Alongside him, Luiz Gustavo's allegedly useful inside information on his Bundesliga colleagues proved less relevant than a third body in midfield.
Without Neymar and Thiago Silva, Brazil always faced an uphill challenge to thwart the relentless German assault, but the obvious reinforcement gathered splinters on the bench.
When Scolari was asked why he didn't pick Paulinho or at least introduce him sooner, the Brazil coach said: "We conceded five goals in a matter of minutes. Everyone blanked out.
"We were trying to reorganise them, talk to them, but there was nothing we could do. I didn't even get a chance to make any changes."
He missed the point. Prevention is always better than cure.
Once Brazil lost the midfield battle, they lost the war.
With an additional buffer ahead of him, David Luiz was again exposed as a frustrated artist masquerading as a disciplined defender.
He embodies the spirit of joga bonito and perhaps remains Brazil's most naturally gifted footballer after Neymar, but shares the concentration of a gaggle of toddlers all chasing the same ball around a kindergarten playground like bees around a honey pot.
Perhaps home support and the tournament's momentum allowed the Selecao to smash through the glass ceiling of their collective talent.
No-one here is under any illusion about where this current squad stacks up against the World Cup-winning sides of the past.
But the tactical ineptitude still rankles among supporters.
"I'm sorry we were not able to get into the final, and I want to thank the fans for still supporting us, even when it reached five, six and seven goals," Scolari said.
That was a questionable assertion at best.
Boos drifted into the Belo Horizonte night throughout the second half.
But then, Scolari hears only want he wants to, which is rather fortunate.
Brazilians will make their feelings very clear in the coming days.