Despite a spirited performance against group-winner Senegal in Franceville, Riyad Mahrez and his Algeria teammates leave Gabon without a win to their name.
It wasn't supposed to end like this. Having made the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup, this golden generation had arrived in Gabon hoping to lift the AFCON trophy for the first time since 1990.
Instead it's Senegal's Lions of Teranga that progress from Group B unbeaten, after goals from Papa Kouly Diop and Moussa Sow canceled out a brace from Mahrez's Leicester City teammate Islam Slimani.
As it happened, even victory wouldn't have seen the Desert Warriors through to the quarterfinals.
Coach Georges Leekens had glumly admitted his players no longer had their destiny in their own hands after failing to beat unfancied Zimbabwe and Tunisia -- and so it proved, as events elsewhere consigned Algeria to an early exit.
The air of futility that could have lent to the occasion didn't impact upon the action itself.
Despite Senegal coach Alou Cisse making 10 changes with qualification guaranteed, both sides started with urgency, and barely ten minutes had passed before the game had its first goal.
Acquired from Sporting CP for over $30 million, Slimani is another big name this tournament will miss, and the Leicester City frontman was a constant menace, meeting a measured cross from Sofiane Hanni on the volley after deft play down the left.
Senegal responded -- showcasing a strength in depth that could see Cisse's men go far -- as Diop's volley bounced into the ground and past the despairing Malik Asselah just before half time.
At that stage, the Algerian contingent could not have been unaware of proceedings in Libreville, but both sets of players reentered the field for the second period with renewed vigor.
Mahrez -- directly involved in five of the past eight AFCON goals scored by Algeria -- looked determined to say goodbye on a high, teeing up Slimani for his second of the night.
There were initially doubts the ball had crossed the line but back came Senegal, and barely two minutes had passed before stand-in striker Moussa Sow had leveled things, capitalizing on a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area to fire home a low drive.
Slipped through by Hanni once again, Slimani could have won it for Algeria with just over ten minutes to play -- sealing his hattrick in the process -- but dragged his shot just inches wide with only the keeper to beat.
Victory in truth would only have papered over the cracks of a underwhelming tournament, and the Fennec Foxes go home with their tails between their legs.
Having rested the key players including Cheikhou Kouyate, Henri Saivet and Sadio Mane, Senegal's Lions of Terranga march on to a quarterfinal tie against Cameroon in Franceville.