Climb aboard: The Socceroos are growing in stature among Australian sporting fans, and will only grow further if they make it to Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Surely the Socceroos win. Surely they beat Iraq and avoid the tortuous uncertainty of sudden death repechage in Asia and South America. Surely they go straight to Rio.
In their way? "The Lions of Mesopotamia", who, in a traumatic aftermath to their failed qualifying campaign, appear more like the tranquillised, mange-ridden creatures from a travelling circus than kings of the jungle. Two of their best players, Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram, have withdrawn due to a contractual dispute. Striker Alaa Abdul-Zahra was red-carded in the defeat to Japan.
So, surely, the resurgent Socceroos will perform a thorough examination of Iraq and find only weapons of misdirection. Not the once talented outfit that might have caused sleepless nights.
Of course, it is never so easy. Ask those who still curl up in the foetal position at the utterance of that other four-letter word – Iran.
So much as it at stake. More than we would like to admit.
FFA chief executive David Gallop was eager to propagate the idea the Socceroos are no longer the most vital element for the game's development. This was a purpose proposition that emphasised the growth of the A-League and removed some of the pressure the team had heaped upon itself during a patchy qualifying performance.
However, when the Socceroos trot out for what – a suddenly very attentive nation hopes – will be the last stop on the road to Brazil, those words will hold about as much water as a Lilliputian's bath tub. More apt will be Gallop's rider: "[Qualification] would provide a rocket boost in the game's trajectory."
Yes, football in Australia, and the A-League particularly, have come along way. But to suggest the Socceroos are no longer the sport's most vital element is like suggesting you could still play a pretty good game without the ball.
This much was apparent in the aftermath to Australia's rousing performance in Japan, and their vital victory over Jordan. Particularly in the intense interest of those casual observers who – for whatever reason – would no sooner attend an A-League game than download a Delta Goodrem song.
Most pertinently, it was emphasised by a once absurd question now seriously posed: Have the Socceroos surpassed the Baggy Greens as Australia's predominant national team?
The answer, on commercial and community interest levels, is no. But that this proposition prompts even a slight furrowing of the brow is a measure of where the Socceroos stand. In a strong second place, with the cricketers looking over their shoulders and the Wallabies eating their dust.
That the 82,000 capacity ANZ Stadium was sold out four days before Tuesday night's final game against Iraq is another compelling indication of the Socceroos' enduring importance. Even more so, the thousands of casual observers who will be glued to their televisions.
From elements in the football community, there remains a self-defeating disdain from the sport's bandwagon hoppers. A with-or-against-us mentality that fails to recognise the predominance, in a wonderfully multi-denominational sporting community, of the pluralist fan. Those whose cupboard might contain a Roosters, Swans, Waratahs and Sydney FC scarf.
Wiser heads recognised that football needed to absorb the theatregoers long ago if it was to make more conversions. Holding the A-League season to summer not only put it in line with the northern winter, it also recognised the cold month diaries of many potential fans were already packed.
Now, the A-League grows at a steady pace. There have been times when, quite literally, you could not give an Australian franchise away. On Monday, the Australian Financial Review reported the FFA was accelerating the sale of the Western Sydney Wanderers after their stellar season. The starting price is $15 million. Money that could help provide stability for less prosperous clubs.
But the A-League does not have – might never have – the unifying effect of the Socceroos. It does not showcase the very best Australian players. At least not those in their prime.
It is the Socceroos who realise the game's great boast. A connection with the world's largest sport and, in turn, with sport's greatest event.
Even Australians who think Messi is the state of their kitchen after a big dinner party want to go to the World Cup. Only the Socceroos can take us there.