The Matildas came into the 2019 World Cup in France with a lofty world ranking of sixth, but if Australian women's soccer is to maintain its high standing in the global game, W-League clubs, the FFA and the sport in general will have to increase investment in the women's game.
That's according to Matildas coach Ante Milicic, who says without investment the sport risks being left behind by European and Asian countries who are spending up to catch, and then surpass, traditionally strong nations like Australia.
Milicic is new to women's soccer, having only coached in the female game since replacing former boss Alen Stajcic earlier this year, but he has learnt in a short time how the dynamics of the sport are changing - particularly after his team's shock loss to Italy in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
"We knew well in advance that this was going to be a tough game," he said.
"Looking at women's football, I have only been in it a short time, but I can really see the investment in it, particularly in Europe, that a lot of these countries have given to their women's league and national teams and they are really getting better and better."
That, he said, was a clear message to the W-League and the Australian game.
"One-hundred per cent. I have seen it with my own eyes. When I went to Italy and I have seen Juventus, Fiorentina, Milan play, and I see football," he said.
"I see the warm-ups, I see how they play and you can see the investment they are getting, with the coaching, with the facilities they are getting. We also had a visit to the Dutch KNVB (football association) and we looked at what their team had to train in every day and have a camp, have a base, the investment is there, and in the end sooner or later it's got to bear results."
He says the long-term spending has parallels in the men's game, with Asian nations investing heavily over the last 20-30 years and ultimately reaping success.
"I refer to it a bit like Qatar winning the Asian Cup with the men. They have invested so much in their junior program," Milicic said.
"It's taken them a long time, but they have built the facilities, the camps, the games, the preparation, the tours, and in the end you get the result, the investment you give comes back. At the moment a lot of these European teams are on the way forward."
Australian Joe Montemurro, coach of Arsenal's women's team, agrees, saying European nations have made improving their women's leagues a priority - to the extent that in his view they have surpassed the North American league, so often held up as the best in the world.
He says the tactical sophistication of European nations will give them an edge over the Asian and American challengers.
"I think their exposure to the tactical differences mean they can adapt," Montemurro said.
"There are all different styles and challenges in the leagues that they play, they are used to big games in the Champions League. I still put question marks on the American league a) from a tactical perspective and b) it is a league that is challenging them week-in, week-out.
"From a pure football perspective I think the European leagues are tougher. There are the real challenges of relegation, of making the Champions League because there is an economic windfall for the club in qualifying, and there are the very real challenges of playing at that level itself, having to face teams like Lyon, Bayern.
"The American league is a franchise league, you don't get relegated, there is a physical tendency where it's strong, fast, long ball, physical football. In Europe you are up against all sorts of different tactical approaches, whether it's a team that banks up and hits you on the break, whether it's a team that play a 4-2-4, or three at the back."
That view is echoed to an extent by Matildas midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight, who says that the Matildas knew the Italians had improved.
"I've watched them, I've played with a couple of their players. I know how far Italy have come in the last few years, let alone just this year," she said.
She said the know-how of the Italians - and other European teams - was an eye-opener for the Australians, particularly their ability to slow the game down and disrupt their opponents' flow.
"It is frustrating isn't it, [but] welcome to European football," Kellond-Knight said.
"It's about being intelligent, using your body well, drawing fouls so you can ease pressure - and credit to the Italians, they're damn phenomenal at doing it. Maybe we can learn something from them and learn how we can kind of control the rhythm and the tempo of the game by using, not a similar tactic, but the street smarts like this."