Sami Khedira warned Germany not to look or think too far ahead after qualifying for the 2014 World Cup began at the weekend.
Khedira, 25, urged his team-mates to follow the example of Spain who, he said, did not look ahead to possible finals but instead concentrated only on their next match.
He looked back at Euro 2012 - in which Germany lost to Italy in the semi-finals - and forward to 2014 in an interview with kicker magazine, saying: "Every match during this qualification will be pointing the way ahead for us.
"We should not fool ourselves into believing everything will be as perfect and that we will win every match again [as they did in qualifying for the European Championship]."
He said Joachim Low's side were still coming to terms with the disappointment of their semi-final defeat, which provoked questions about the team's approach in the German media.
"Of course you can discuss whether we made the right tactical decisions and if we played the right players. But that does not count for me," Khedira added.
"The crucial point was more like we were maybe thinking too far ahead towards a possible final against Spain. We might have to make a mental note of it"
He said the Spanish attitude had shown the benefits of not thinking too far ahead, saying: "I have never heard Spain talking about reaching the final - they always talked about the next match.
"This is what distinguishes great teams. They don't think about a possible opponent in the final when playing the group stage, but instead take one step at a time and fully concentrate on the 90 minutes ahead of them.
"We are working towards finally bringing a trophy to Germany, but we should not be talking about it for the next two years."
Khedira's views contradicted those of captain Philipp Lahm, who spoke of Germany winning the title in Brazil at a press conference last week.
Khedira said the German players "were all pretty down" after the Euros, but added: "What's the point in mourning wasted opportunities? You have to be ready for the next one.
"And we will get a new one, of that I am certain. We will be in a do or die situation again, and we have to work on it now to not regret anything afterwards.
"I am happy I was able to take a step forward during the tournament. But, in the end, it was not enough for us as a team and thus I can by no means be happy, and I question myself: was something missing on my part?"