The World Cup draw rehearsal has taken place in the state of Bahia, Brazil, with host Brazil given a fright as they were drawn alongside European giants Italy and France.
While the rehearsal has no bearing on Friday's main draw, the outcome raised concerns among organisers that two of the major European nations could end up in the same pot as Brazil.
World Cup groups drawn (rehearsal). That last one looks a bit rubbish... pic.twitter.com/XlA4SnTJI3— Rik Sharma (@riksharma_) December 5, 2013
Elsewhere, England were drawn in the same section of the draw as reigning champions Spain, with Ivory Coast also adding to what would have been an intriguing group, had it come to fruition.
The main purpose of the rehearsal draw is to check that all procedures are in place to allow the draw to take place without any hiccups on the day.
With the added complication of an extra European nation needing to be drawn in a different pool on this occasion, per ESPN FC's Dale Johnson, the rehearsal is more necessary than ever.
Other interesting groups drawn would have seen Germany and Portugal face off in the first round while Argentina, Ghana and Russia would have been left to compete for two places.
However, it is the possibility of Brazil facing a difficult task to get out the group stage that has been on the cards since the results of qualification, and it will continue to worry organisers.
While there can be no favouritism towards the hosts, it would be a disaster for the tournament were Brazil to fail to get through the first round—especially given the existing potential for protest at the competition, per BBC Sport.
The #Socceroos got Brazil, France and Italy in the World Cup draw rehearsal. Let's hope lightning doesn't strike twice tomorrow!— Neil Sherwin (@neilsherwin) December 5, 2013
It is entirely possible that Brazil would advance from a group containing France and Italy, but it would be at the expense of another of the competition's star turns.
England and Spain would both expect to progress from their group, but the presence of both Ivory Coast and South Korea would be a worry.
While neither side are exceptional, both have enough quality and experience to cause problems if they can pull together a performance on the day.
The full draw will take place in Salvador, Brazil, on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. GMT (11 a.m. ET).