Andy Murray has spent his career striving to match those ahead of him rather than looking over his shoulder.
But the Scot's humbling quarter-final loss to Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon showed that change is coming in the men's game and standing still means going backwards.
The defeat was Murray's earliest at Wimbledon since 2008 and marks the first time he has failed to at least repeat what he achieved the year before.
Losing the ranking points from his Wimbledon title last year means he will drop to 10th, his lowest standing since before he reached his first grand slam final at the US Open in 2008.
Dimitrov, who tackles Novak Djokovic in his first grand slam semi-final on Friday, will jump above him, as will Milos Raonic, another 23-year-old.
This has been the tournament where the next generation have shown they are ready not just to challenge the top names but to win grand slams.
They are also hungry, a question mark that has been hanging over Murray since he achieved his ultimate goal of winning Wimbledon 12 months ago.
The 27-year-old insisted "the fire was still there" against Dimitrov, even if his game was not, and that he has his sights firmly set on winning more grand slam titles.
"When I stop thinking I have a chance of winning these tournaments, I'll stop playing tennis," he said.
"This is what I play for. I love these events. I've had a lot of hard losses in them in my career, but also with some big highs, as well.
"This is obviously one of the hard ones. But I need to gain some motivation from it. The only way for me to get better or win these tournaments again is to make improvements because other guys are getting better now."
It is a year since Murray has reached the final of any tournament, and he has not beaten a top-10 player since the title-clinching victory over Djokovic here last year.
His losses have included three major off days at grand slams - against Stan Wawrinka in New York last year, a thrashing by Rafael Nadal at the French Open and Wednesday's Dimitrov defeat.
Murray's camp played down reports his form may have been affected by something that happened just before the match, the Scot reportedly heard to shout "Five minutes before the f****** match!'' towards his team.
The result may prove to be just what Murray needs to give him the drive to rediscover his best form.
He said he has been motivated by both victories and defeats in the past, adding: " I gained a lot of motivation when I lost in the final of Wimbledon in 2012.
"But after the US Open I was pretty pumped and motivated because it took me such a long time to do that. It was nice to feel what it was like to win one of them. I gained a lot of motivation from that, too.
"But the reality is you lose in most tournaments that you play. You don't win even 30 or 40 per cent of them. Sometimes it's in the final, sometimes it's a bit earlier.
"You need to be able to deal with defeats and move on from them. That's what the best players do."
One of the first things Murray will want to get sorted out is his coaching situation.
He initially hired Amelie Mauresmo only for the grass-court season but has already said he would like to make the partnership a longer-term one.
The pair were said to be meeting up on Thursday morning, with the ball appearing to be very much in Mauresmo's court.
Murray has enjoyed working with the Frenchwoman, the Wimbledon champion in 2006, and insisted life on the tennis circuit was not becoming a drag.
"The last few months, I've really enjoyed it," he said. "I've enjoyed being on the practice court. I've enjoyed especially the last few weeks with Amelie.
"In terms of moving forward, I think when you stop enjoying practising and training and travelling, then you have to have a think about what you actually want to do with yourself.
"Because you don't want to make yourself miserable when you're doing something that you've loved since you were a kid. T here's been periods where I've struggled, but right now isn't one of them."
Presuming Mauresmo agrees to carry on the partnership, the pair are likely to hit the practice court soon at Murray's training base in Miami.
The US hard-court season, culminating in the US Open at the end of August, takes on added importance because of Murray's indifferent results.
Undoubtedly the back surgery he had last September has played a part and he is looking forward to having a month off from tournaments to address weaknesses in his game.
"There's not that many times in the year where you can change things in your game or try to make big improvements, because the tournaments go on all the time," he said.
"For me this year, coming back from the surgery, I haven't had as much time training as I would have liked."
Murray's next tournament is expected to be the Rogers Cup in Toronto at the start of August.