Team GB went unrepresented in two boat classes at the last Olympics - this time, four crews are still scrapping for a place on the plane.
Britain's as-yet-unqualified Olympic boats got the measure of the scale of the task facing them at the COVID-hit European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy.
Four British crews remain in search of a Tokyo quota place and the men's pair and lightweight double scullers were both beaten by boats they will face at the infamous Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne next month.
Flag-bearer Moe Sbihi relishing potential Team GB swan song in Tokyo
Harry Glenister and Morgan Boulding rowed well in their pair semi-final but were beaten by 0.02 secs in a photo finish by Dutchmen Nico Van Sprang and Guillaume Krommenhoek, also campaigning to qualify for the Games.
The Brits did come home two places in front of an out-of-sorts Belarusian crew, who edged Boulding and Tom Jeffrey to the 11th Olympic place available at the 2019 World Championships.
Meanwhile, Samuel Mottram and Jamie Copus struggled off the start and finished fifth in the lightweight double sculls semis. They were 2.65 secs behind the Swiss and just behind the Danes, who they outpaced in their heat, both rivals in the bid for one of two slots at the last chance regatta.
Bach: A safe Tokyo Olympics will require ‘sacrifice’
Mottram and Copus did manage to better France's Pierre Houin and Hugo Beurey, who finished last. Houin won Olympic gold alongside Jeremie Azou in 2016 but has now missed the A final at two European Championships alongside his new partner.
Britain have not failed to qualify a male single sculler since the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and international debutant Matt Haywood showed he had the stomach for the fight in his semi-final in Varese.
Haywood battled away from lane six in a field featuring 2018 world champion Kjetil Borch and Rio Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin, finishing fifth only a couple of lengths behind the automatic qualifiers.
"It's been another thrilling day of racing and it was really good to see some of our most competitive boats performing so well," said Britain's Director of Performance Brendan Purcell.
"Tomorrow's final day is sure to be another brilliant day racing. The crews are clearly thriving to be back competing on the water after 20 months away."
The event itself is hobbling into its final day with the news that three members of the Turkish delegation tested positive for COVID on Friday. All Turkish crews have been withdrawn and the three members of the team have been moved to a dedicated isolation hotel.
The Great Britain team will have to quarantine on return home, but will be allowed to travel to and from training at Caversham.
Flagbearer Sbihi tastes Tokyo elation and frustration in unforgettable 24 hours
Mixed day for Team GB in rowing races