Let's see. How are we gonna spin this disaster in the pool? We could try denial and blame shifting, I guess. Something like: "Yeah, well, Americans just buy their gold medals by the truckload and the Russians have still got those secret KGB drug labs and the French are sending coded messages in all those French language announcements we keep hearing and . . . and . . . "
But what the hell. They all jumped in the pool and swam up and down really fast. End of story.
The unbeatable Australian men's 100-metre relay team just proved themselves to be eminently beatable, after all, by jumping in the same pool and swimming up and down slightly less fast than normal.
James "the Missile" Magnussen seems to be copping the worst of the blame – and not just because he has the most convenient nickname for overworked headline writers ("The Missile hits home", "The Missile fizzles", "The Missile self destructs").
He's copping it because he hopped in the pool first and swam up and down in a personal least best time that left his teammates splashing about ineffectually to catch up.
But he's also copping it because we, the media, and we, the world's second most obese nation, had unrealistic expectations. And he's copping it because the harshest critic Magnussen has is the same hapless dud who jumped in the pool first and swam up and down – himself.
For a nation of fatties and couch potatoes – really, we are, there are statistics to prove it – we're mighty quick to judge, aren't we?
We're quick to judge Leisel Jones, who could probably swim two or three laps of an Olympic pool in the time it took us to drag our fish-white, beer-bloated carcasses across the width of an inflatable kiddy pool.
We're quick to judge Stephanie Rice, who has trained from dawn to dusk for months with a mangled shoulder, while we couldn't be arsed crawling out of bed in the morning unless it was to inhale an extra large choc-chip muffin and world record-sized milky-cino.
And we're quick to judge James Magnussen because he hopped in a pool and swam up and down a bit too slowly and then had the gall to be visibly pissed off by it. To be a "poor loser". To fall from, ahem, Olympian heights, down into the realm of the merely mortal.
(Not to our level of mortality, of course. He'd have to give up training hundreds of hours a week for that and take on a strenuous program of not doing very much while sitting in front of the TV, eating lamingtons sprinkled with pork rinds.)
Magnussen was right to be shattered and confused and angry. He was beaten fairly by better men on the day but he knew that he could have been so much better, too. Losing gracefully is the preserve of those who have done their best and he didn't. Nowhere near it. If he is to feel that he has earned the time and money spent on him by coaches and teammates, by his sponsors, by us and, most importantly, by himself, he has to get back in that pool and swim his very best.
Maybe he wins, maybe he gets beaten. But he would at least then have earned the right to be a gracious loser.
By the time these Games are over, it might be a lesson we'll all have to take in. Perhaps the expectations weighing so heavily on the swimmers and visible in their faces in post-swim interviews aren't because we all expected them to win every race but because we suspected they might not this time.
It's been a long while since the Olympic torch burned over Sydney. The massive boost to our sporting stocks from that event has passed and we need to let go and move on. Our swimmers, especially the women, have always made us feel more significant than we are.
It's not the fault of Magnussen, or Jones, or any of our athletes when they're beaten by opponents who were simply better than them on the day. They're trying their hardest, even if they're not doing their best.
The wheel turns, time passes and champions rise and fall. As one wit noted on Twitter yesterday: "At these Olympics I think Australia will be punching at its weight."