Spain's players refused to make excuses after their 3-0 Confederations Cup final defeat by hosts Brazil in the Maracana on Sunday.
"We never arrived," said Xavi, whose ineffectual performance was one of the big surprises on a lacklustre night for the Spaniards, who had Gerard Pique sent off.
"They were more intense, they pressured more and there was more rhythm to their game. They were just better."
His words were echoed by coach Vicente del Bosque who, after voicing irritation with Brazil fouls disrupting his side's flow, was quick to acknowledge that "they were better than us and they deserved the title".
Golden boot winner Fernando Torres said Spain's feeling of "inferiority" and "inability to find any solutions" was hard to take, and something he and his World Cup and European Championship-winning team-mates were not used to.
However, Sergio Ramos, who missed a second half penalty, said: "We're not machines - this day had to come eventually."
"It's helpful to lose now and again - it reminds you that you're not unbeatable," Del Bosque said, while Iker Casillas was already looking a year ahead, saying: "At least now we know exactly what to expect in 2014."
In the Spanish press, AS reported that Spain had been "devoured" at the Macarana, while Marca rated each Spanish player out of ten, with nobody receiving a mark higher than five.
But the Catalan press took the opportunity to heap praise on new Barcelona arrival Neymar, with El Mundo Deportivo saying he had single-handedly "crushed" Spain.
Reports, though, pointed out that no nation has ever won the World Cup after lifting the Confederations Cup, and Casillas said: "This isn't the World Cup."