uhammad Ali didn't lose much, not in his prime anyway. When he did, to Joe Frazier in The Fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden, it changed the way he viewed life. "I never thought of losing, but now that it' s happened, the only thing is to do it right," he said. "That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life."
It isn't just defeat that has preoccupied Indian cricket followers over the past eight months. It's been the nature of them. The tour of England was horrendous, a whitewash in the four Tests followed by defeats in the one-day arena where India are world champions. A lot of fans consoled themselves by thinking that things couldn't possibly get worse.
But they did. In Australia, against a team that were supposed to be in crisis after losing at home to New Zealand, the Test side plumbed new levels of mediocrity. The batting was inept, the bowling insipid and the catches weren't taken when they needed to be.
After another 4-0 rout, the one-day series offered a chance for redemption. Instead, a team whose bonds have been weakened by repeated failure veered from the brilliant to the abysmal. Having started with two wins and a tie in their first four games, India closed the league phase with just one win from four, a sequence of results that left them needing a favour from Australia to make the final.
You can look back on this dire period as the time when Virat Kohli announced himself as the next Indian batsman of note.
They didn't get it, as Sri Lanka played superbly to defend 238 in Sydney on Friday night. So, after three months on the road, many of the team members are heading home to the same kind of damning headlines that greeted their return from England.