Fernando Torres could not prevent Spain from crashing to a 1-0 defeat in their opening game of the World Cup finals as Switzerland produced one of the shocks of the tournament so far on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite a dominant first-half showing, the European champions fell behind to Gelson Fernandes's scrappy 52nd minute strike, which came firmly against the run of play.
Torres was introduced from the substitutes' bench shortly after, but for all their possession, the Spaniards were unable to muster an equaliser and the Swiss held on for a famous victory.
Liverpool's No.9 joined clubmate Pepe Reina in starting the game on the bench in Durban as La Furia Roja went into the Group H opener aiming to live up to heightened expectations following their stunning European Championship success of two years ago.
They quickly set about dominating possession in the opening exchanges, with ex-Red Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta pulling the strings in midfield.
However, the first chance of note for Vicente del Bosque's troops did not arrive until the 17th minute when David Silva drilled a tame effort into the arms of goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
The Spaniards went closer to taking a deserved lead on 24 minutes as Iniesta sliced open their opponents' rearguard with a low pass into the path of Gerard Pique inside the area.
Nimble footwork allowed the Barcelona star to dance inside a defender, but Pique saw his final effort thwarted by a sprawling stop from the Swiss 'keeper.
Soon after, David Villa thundered a free-kick into the wall from the edge of the box as Spain cranked up the pressure - and the Schweizer Nati's cause wasn't helped by the loss of Fulham newboy Philippe Senderos to injury with less than 10 minutes left on the first-half clock.
With the interval looming, Villa scampered into space down the left, but the striker's looped cross towards Silva sailed harmlessly to safety for the Swiss and the sides went into the break goalless.
Spain continued to probe after the restart and Alonso's sweeping shot was narrowly deflected over the crossbar via the head of Stephane Grichting.
But Del Bosque's men were left stunned as Switzerland took a shock 52nd minute lead, with former Manchester City midfielder Fernandes benefitting from some uncharacteristically slack defending after a long ball had caused all kinds of trouble inside the Spain box.
La Furia Roja's riposte was almost instant, but Benaglio was sharp off his line to prevent Villa from bearing down on goal on the hour mark just moments after Pique had looped a header onto the roof of the net.
Torres made his eagerly awaited entrance into the action in the aftermath as Spain searched for a leveller.
With 20 minutes remaining, Alonso crashed a thunderous effort against the crossbar from distance before Jesus Navas's determination took him beyond full-back Reto Ziegler, though he could only poke straight at the 'keeper on the stretch.
In what was fast proving to be one of the most entertaining encounters of the tournament so far, Switzerland were inches away from doubling their advantage when Eren Derdiyok weaved his way into the Spaniard's area and guided a reverse shot onto the base of Iker Casillas's post.
But not even five minutes of added time could produce a Spanish equaliser and Del Bosque's contingent will require a much-improved showing in their next match against Honduras on Monday evening if they're to keep their World Cup dream alive.
Breakdown of key contributions from Torres:
55 min: Torres is sent out to warm up following Switzerland's shock goal
61 min: Torres introduced into the action along with Navas in place of Silva and Busquets
68 min: A break forward sees Villa try to play Torres through on goal but his pass is just behind the striker, who has to check back allowing the Swiss defenders to gain ground. His final effort on the spin is way over
70 min: Villa feeds Torres into space inside the left channel of the Swiss box. His prodded attempt from an acute angle is spectacularly pushed behind by the goalkeeper
80 min: Torres flicks Navas's cross into the path of Pique but the defender is forced wide and the danger is gone
83 min: Torres surges down the left wing as Spain break but he's blocked by a strong Swiss challenge
85 min: El Nino is millimetres away from directing Villa's header towards goal
87 min: Torres skies an effort high over the crossbar
95 min: Despair for Torres and Spain as the final whistle goes