Barbosa's tale is a cautionary one for the current Brazil squad. A mistake by any player next year could be the costliest they ever make.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of the last Brazil team to lift the World Cup in 2002, was reinstated in November 2012 to inspire a floundering team.
The results have been unspectacular.
Scolari has won two, drawn four and lost one of his seven matches back at the helm and the team languishes in 22nd in the FIFA world rankings.
A 2-2 draw with England in June was the first match at the refurbished Maracana, a stadium which is both a monument to Brazil's sporting prowess and a mausoleum for past failure.
"We always have good players, but we don't have a good team right now," Carlos Alberto, captain of Brazil's World Cup winners of 1970, told CNN. "We don't have experience, the players are very young.
"Everybody says to these players, 'You have to win, you have to win.' It's not good because they are young, they don't have the experience to play an international tournament."
That 1970 team is often referred to as the greatest of all time, given the style and swagger with which it crushed Italy 4-1 in the final match of the Mexico tournament.
The advent of color television made the players, bedecked in iconic vibrant yellow with green trim, appear as if soccer stars from another planet.
Alberto does not think the current generation is yet capable of emulating his team's achievements, but he is backing his countrymen to succeed four years later.
"They are going to take the experience of playing in the World Cup next year into 2018. In Russia, I bet you any money Brazil will win!" he declared.
"Next year, if they get to the semifinals it is OK."
Edu, a midfielder capped 15 times for Brazil between 2004 and 2005, shares Alberto's reservations.
The former Arsenal player is concerned a change of management has disrupted a squad short on international experience.
"We're not prepared yet," Edu, now director of football at Club World Cup winners Corinthians, told CNN. "We've changed the coach, which is not normal.
"Usually a coach has four, five, six years to get used to his team. Scolari is lucky, because Brazil has a lot of players to build a good squad. But I'm not sure if they will be prepared enough for the World Cup.
"The Brazilian team is not in the best moment."
One player of whom a huge amount is expected is Neymar, a flamboyant attacker recently signed by Barcelona who is frequently hailed as "the new Pele."
If Brazil is to finally win the World Cup on home soil, the fleet-footed, shock-haired attacker will have to prove he has shoulders broad enough to carry a nation's hopes.
"Listen, winning the World Cup is very hard because it is a box of surprises. No doubt Brazil is one of the best, but this doesn't mean Brazil is going to win ... The best players in Europe, they are Brazilian," Pele told CNN.
"In Brazil we have had a lot of excellent players like Zico, Tostao, Rivelino, Pele, Ronaldinho, but the last two years we have had Neymar.
"He is very talented. I hope he has luck in Barcelona. I didn't like it so much because he used to play in my team, Santos, I lost a good player. He deserves to go to the best team.
"I said to be the new Pele would be very difficult, because my mother and my father, they closed the machine (gestures). But no doubt he is one of the best players who we have in Brazil."