Argentina were victorious against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the latter's first-ever World Cup game, but the giants many have touted as the team most likely to spoil Brazil's coronation were hardly convincing in doing so.
Although there was an improvement when Argentina revetred to a more familiar formation, and there will be huge excitement over Lionel Messi scoring a goal matching his immense talent at a World Cup, Bosnia showed they are a force to be reckoned with and also suggested that Argentina may have much work to do yet.
The Maracana saw its World Cup debut to host Brazil's great rivals, but with Argentina lining up in an unfamiliar and surprising 5-3-1-1 formation, the first half was a story of dour football and a game that was too close to comfort for the Argentine fans. A Sead Kolasinac own-goal after three minutes had Argentina in front, but it was not until Alejandro Sabella made a decisive double-switch at half-time to a more attacking formation that his side improved, with Messi scoring a magnificent solo goal to make it 2-1, before Vedad Ibisevic set up a tense finale.
Bosnia got off to pretty much the worst start possible in the country's biggest game so far when Marcos Rojo's header from a Messi free-kick deflected in off Kolasinac, giving Argentina an early lead.
Yet a thrashing from Argentina did not materialize -- Bosnia were undeterred and asked questions of Argentina, causing problems for the side from all directions. Chances were at a premium, although Sergio Romero was called into making a fine save when Senad Lulic rose above Hugo Campagnaro to head goalwards from a set piece.
Sabella took radical steps to address his team's problems at halftime, withdrawing Campagnaro and Maxi Rodriguez for Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain, and Argentina's play seemed to improve as a result, reverting to not only a more familiar formation but also a more attacking one.
And if there was one thing to give Argentina renewed hope, it was to see their talisman produce on the biggest stage of all. Messi did exactly that, scoring an excellent solo goal as he dribbled past several defenders before smashing in a shot which found the net to seemingly seal Argentina's victory.
Just as Argentina appeared to be cruising to victory, however, the substitute Ibesivic was sent free from a ponderous backline and wisely took his shot early to deceive Romero, the ball rolling underneath him and into the net to give Bosnia their first-ever World Cup goal.
Bosnia continued to cause problems in a nervy finale, but Argentina were able to hold on for their win. There is much work to do if they are to seriously challenge the hosts for the ultimate prize, but Sabella's early experiment can at least be cast off as a failure. The World Cup has already proved attacking football is the order of the day, and it took Argentina 45 minutes to realise it. Next time, they will probably not take so long.
Argentina: Sergio Romero, Federico Fernández, Ezequiel Garay, Hugo Campagnaro (Fernando Gago 46'), Marcos Rojo, Ángel di María, Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodríguez (Gonzalo Higuain 46'), Pablo Zabaleta, Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero.
Goals: Kolasinac OG 3', Messi 65'
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Asmir Begović, Sead Kolašinac, Emir Spahić, Ermin Bičakčić, Mensur Mujdža (Vedad Ibisevic 69'), Miralem Pjanić, Muhamed Bešić; Senad Lulić, Zvjezdan Misimović (Haris Medunjanin 74'), Izet Hajrović (Edin Visca 71'), Edin Džeko.
Goals: Ibisevic 84'