How good would Barcelona be without Lionel Messi? Would Brazil even have a shot at the Fifa World Cup 2018 title if Neymar wasn't in the squad? Mo Salah is that irreplaceable player for Egypt, and when it became known that the talisman was not in the starting lineup for the Pharaohs in their World Cup opener against Uruguay, you worried for them.
However, Egypt, in their 90 minutes at the Ekaterinburg Stadium, showed Uruguay and the rest of their Group A opponents, they are more, much more, than just Salah, who did not even come on from the bench, even if, right at the end, they fell to the irrepressible Uruguayans by conceding a heartbreaking late goal.
The key to any successful run in the World Cup is an organised defence, and Egypt certainly have that in spades. From their striker to their back four and the goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy, who had an absolute blinder, Egypt showed the kind of discipline that left Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani frustrated.
Yes, Suarez did have three really good chances – two of those he would have put home on another day – and had he scored off of those, the narrative might have been different, but nothing can be taken away from Egypt's organisation, even if, in the end, it all proved to be fruitless.
After about five minutes of this second Group A match of the Fifa World Cup 2018, you knew, this was going to be a much more even contest, not like the one on Thursday, when Russia ran all over a poor Saudi Arabia.
Uruguay are already known for their organisation – understandable when you have the Atletico Madrid pair of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, the goalscorer, at the heart of your defence – and with Egypt also setting up really well, this was never going to be a match that was going to end 5-4.
Without Salah in their lineup, Egypt certainly lacked that bit of stardust, that man who can carve something out of absolutely nothing, but the likes of Trezeguet, Mo Elneny, Tarek Hamed, Marwan Mohsen and Amr Warda all put in a proper shift.
And that energy, starting from up front, seeped through the lineup, with the goalkeeper having an absolutely brilliant outing, keeping out Suarez and a wonderful Edinson Cavani strike.
That left the youngish supporting cast of Uruguay – the likes of Rodrigo Bentancur, Nahitan Nandez and Giorgian de Arrascaeta – struggling to find answers. So much so that Oscar Tabarez had to substitute two of them for much more experienced players in the shape of Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez.
Maybe, in the end, that experience made the difference, as Uruguay cranked it up in the final ten minutes, and found their reward when Gimenez powered home a header off an 89th minute corner to give his team the three points.
For Egypt, though, it might have been a cruel return to the World Cup, but also an encouraging one, because if they put in more such performances, and assuming they will have Salah back for the next two games, they should fancy their chances of getting past Russia and Saudi Arabia.