Marcos Baghdatis had little to do but allow Murray to implode as the world number five let a double-break slip before losing 12 games out of 14, eventually sealing the match 6-4 6-1.
Losses — even at ATP500 ranking events in Rotterdam — would rarely unsettle a player with Murray's ambitions. There are always other matches, other tournaments, fresh chances to get back on track. Indeed, Murray stayed on in Holland and played doubles with brother Jamie, reaching the semi-finals.
Baghdatis, a former Australian Open runner-up himself, had some sympathy for the man he vanquished, as well as some words of warning:
"He could be tired from Melbourne," said the Cypriot after their meeting.
"When I played the final in Australia, I was in bed for a week. It's tough to come back."
Baghdatis's Australian Open final was in 2006 — and despite him being just 20 years old at the time, it remains the peak of his career.
No matter how hard it is to come back from Grand Slam final heartache, that is the task which lies ahead of Murray — and he has to do it better and quicker than he has in the past.
Last year, after Murray shed tears in the wake of defeat to Roger Federer in the Melbourne final, a desperate slump in form followed.
From February through to June, Murray reached a single quarter-final in eight tournaments, with a record of 11 wins and eight defeats across three continents.
Better times followed in the second half of the year — not least reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals and claiming two Masters titles — but the turbulence and topsy-turvy form remained, and coach Miles Maclagan lost his job.
Murray, facing much the same challenge this year, cannot afford another sequence of defeats.
The silver lining of last year's slump is that there are a wealth of ranking points available between now and Wimbledon, and with it the very attainable possibility of leapfrogging Robin Soderling in the world rankings and staying in touch with the top three.
"I want to keep working hard, try and improve," Murray said after Melbourne. "It's going to be tough, for sure, for a few days."
The few days are up — and the hard work of redoubling his energy needs to be in evidence by the time Murray takes to the court in Dubai next week.
Milos Raonic's star is rising faster than you can say 'San Jose champion'.
The Canadian 20-year-old was world number 157 going into the Australian Open as a wildcard — a fourth round appearance and a first ATP tour title later, he is 98 places higher.
Fernando Verdasco, beaten in the final in America, was bemused by Raonic's power.
"I played well when he let me on his serve because I think there must be another league for he and (Croatian player Ivo) Karlovic because it's like another sport," Verdasco said.
"When you serve every time at 140mph and every time you have to take a chance that he's going up the line, you can't do anything. Plus from the baseline he's a better player than Karlovic."
Tennis is ready for a new face or two to break into the game's elite, and while Simon Reed was absolutely right to warn against over-hyping a player who is barely out of his teens, this performance, and that of Aussie Open quarter-finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov in reaching the final in the Brazil Open, give hope that young talent can make strides in the game in 2011.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
"Watching the dog show. It's incredible how many breeds of dogs there are!" Alina Jidkova has plenty of time to get to know the world outside tennis since her retirement.
"If somebody mess with me I tell them ima tweet about you! I'm tough like that." We know Ivo Karlovic has his tongue in his cheek, but still...
"Dear Serena, Why? Signed Your conscience" Where to begin? Serena Williams makes her weekly appearance in this corner.
Juergen Melzer drops Mikhail Youzhny out of the world's top 10 on the ATP Tour as the pair play musical chairs for rankings 10 and 11, while beaten finalist in Rotterdam Jo-Wilfried Tsonga climbs two spots to 16 in a largely static top 20. There's still room for a new entrant, however — Viktor Troicki reaches a career-high ranking of 19 after a semi-final appearance in Holland.
Much more excitement in the women's tour, where Kim Clijsters becomes new world number one after reaching the final of the Paris Open - taking top spot for the first time in the second part of her tennis career. Petra Kvitova, who beat Clijsters in the final, jumps four spots to 14 in the world.
A-BOG v A-BOG
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?
Well, the same thing that happens when Alex Bogdanovic of Britain takes on Alex Bogmolov Jnr of the USA in a competition they don't know they're a part of: not very much.
With neither player in action this week Bogmolov Jnr slides five places in the rankings to 153 and Bogdanovic drops another 11 to 292.
A dishonourable draw.
Standings (no changes): A-Bog (US) 21-12 A-Bog (GB) (season 1-0)