There's quote that says while the English invented football it was the Brazilians that perfected it.
Most football fans can remember a particular Brazilian team that captured their imagination - there's one for almost every generation.
I always remember the 1982 team that contained names like Zico, Eder, Junior and the captain Socrates (still the coolest name of any professional footballer … ever).
That's quite a legacy to live up to.
The squad that's currently in South Africa is a very different animal, however.
It's one fashioned in the likeness of their coach Dunga - a man who knows how to win World Cups (he captained Brazil to success in 1994) and who seemingly values industry and teamwork over flair and big names.
After taking over in 2006 he immediately set about dismantling the so-called "magic quartet" of Ronaldo, Kaka, Ronaldinho and Adriano.
The big name culture was seen as a major factor in the team's relatively poor performance in Germany 2006 when they were knocked out by France in the quarter finals.
Of the four only Kaka remains in the present setup. He, along with Robinho, are seen as the men who can provide the spark, while the likes of Maicon and Lucio provide the drive.
Most Brazilian journalists I've spoken to have decidedly mixed views on Dunga's methods, but that may have something to do with his less than cordial relationship with them.
The fans I met at Ellis Park before Brazil's Group G opener against North Korea continue to keep faith with the coach as long as he delivers World Cup number 6
Yet in their first game of the competition against North Korea you saw the limitations of Dunga's strategy.
With Kaka and Robinho unable to find space, Brazil resorted to speculative shots from outside the penalty area. Incredibly, the world's No.1 team couldn't find a way of breaking down the side ranked 105.
But in the second half, a reminder that every Brazilian side is capable of moments that others can only dream of.
Maicon's run and shot bore more than a passing resemblance to Carlos Alberto's classic goal from the 1970 final in Mexico.
After Elano made it 2 nil, North Korea had their moment with Yun-Nam ji's late goal.
But for me Maicon's moment of magic proved that Brazil's legacy of beautiful football isn't completely dead yet.