Having been defeated by Spain in the final of the 2010 World Cup, the Netherlands were handed an immediate opportunity to avenge that loss after being pitted against La Roja in the group stage of the 2014 edition.
The two European heavyweights were paired in a tough group-stage draw, with Chile and Australia completing an ominous first-round foursome.
Reigning champions Spain met the Dutch in their opener in Salvador in a match that wouldn't be forgotten by either nation - but for very different reasons.
The Spaniards took the lead through Xabi Alonso's penalty just before the half-hour mark, but they were pegged back just before halftime when Robin van Persie scored the most audacious goal of the 2014 tournament.
Picked out by a 50-yard ball from Daley Blind, Van Persie leapt forward and connected with an ambitious 15-yard diving header. His connection was perfect, with the ball looping over Iker Casillas - who'd been caught off his line - before landing in the back of the net.
The superb moment of improvisation ensured that Van Persie became the first Dutch player to score at three World Cups, but it was a setback that rocked Spain, and one from which their tournament never recovered.
With Blind again pulling the strings from his wing-back role on the left, the Dutch took control of the contest eight minutes after the break when Arjen Robben added their second.
Stefan de Vrij added another just after the hour-mark, before further goals from Van Persie and Robben secured an unexpected 5-1 victory for Louis van Gaal's side.
Spain were eliminated in the first round after one of the more miserable title defences in the tournament's history, while the Dutch progressed to the semifinals, where they were defeated on penalties by Argentina.