In a sobering reality check, Australia's Olympic swimming champions Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton have sensationally failed to qualify for the men's 200m freestyle final on day one of the Pan Pacs in Tokyo.
Rio 2016 100m gold medallist Chalmers finished third in his heat while 400m champion Horton was fourth in another.
The pair were left in the wake of a blistering morning field topped by Americans Andrew Seliskar and Townley Haas.
Australia's young guns did provide some consolation in Japan.
Surprise packet Alex Graham was third fastest overall for Thursday night's medal race where he will be joined by fellow young gun Clyde Lewis.
Australia's Jack Cartwright also looked impressive as fourth fastest for the 200m final but he has pulled out to be primed for Friday's 100m.
Commonwealth silver medallist Horton and young gun Elijah Winnington will contest the B final.
Each nation can only field two swimmers in a final meaning the likes of Chalmers missed out in a tough start for Australia at the four day meet.
Chalmers was ninth fastest overall, clocking one minute, 46.62 seconds - more than a second slower than his personal best that secured Commonwealth Games gold in April.
Chalmers hoped to make amends in Friday's 100m freestyle.
"I gave it everything I had. That's the fastest I have ever been in the morning," he said.
"For me, I am actually really happy with that but in the back of your mind you are a bit disappointed because you want to be in that A final.
"To not have that opportunity does suck... but I'm still learning and I have the 100m tomorrow, so I still have time to redeem myself."
Horton - 11th fastest on Thursday - was frustrated but believed it augured well for Australia's 4x200m freestyle team at the Pan Pacs after their young guns stepped up.
"The relay will be strong ... I may not get a relay swim," Horton said.
In other events, Jessica Hansen was fourth fastest for the women's 100m breaststroke final behind top qualifier and Olympic champion Lilly King of the US while Jake Packard (sixth fastest) and Matthew Wilson (seventh) made the men's medal race.
In the absence of world class scratchings Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus, Australia's Mikkayla Sheridan and Maddie Groves made the 200m freestyle final, but American great Katie Ledecky looked ominous setting a new Pan Pacs record (1:55.16) to qualify top.
Thursday night action will also feature star Titmus (800m freestyle), Jack McLoughlin (1500m freestyle) and Australia's 4x100m mixed medley relay team.