The brilliance of Kevin de Bruyne destroyed Scotland at a stunned Hampden.
Any hopes of qualification for Euro 2020 from Group I were, realistically, already dashed by Russia on Friday but the Belgians piled on the pain in a one-sided contest.
At least the tortured Tartan Army were treated to a master-class from De Bruyne. Any true football fan just had to appreciate the Manchester City player’s performance.
The Belgians stunned the Scots with a brilliant breakaway goal on nine minutes, with striker Romelu Lukaku supplying the finish. It was 2-0 on 24 minutes when Belgian central defender Thomas Vermaelen sidefooted home from close range.
Both goals were set up by De Bruyne and he did it again on 32 minutes when his corner was nodded into the net by Toby Alderweireld.
The man of the match then scored one himself on 82 minutes to make it 4-0.
Time for a couple of sobering stats.
The Scots now sit fifth in a group of six, with only the world’s worst team San Marino below them.
The aggregate over the last three games between Belgium and the Scots – over a calendar year – is 11-0.
Nothing went right on a night when national coach Steve Clarke had taken a scalpel to the side that started against the Russian on Friday night.
Out went John McGinn, James Forrest, Ryan Fraser and Oli McBurnie. In came Ryan Christie, Kenny McLean, Robert Snodgrass and Matt Phillips.
It was bold stuff from the Scots boss, with the midfielders particularly punished for given their Russian opponents the freedom of Hampden.
The Belgians were without injured superstar Eden Hazard but they had plenty of other top talent from which to choose.
Everywhere you looked there was quality in a yellow jersey and their three most forward-thinking players were captain De Bruyne, Lukaku and Dries Mehrtens – enough said.
Lukaku got the game under way for the world’s number one team as the Tartan Army hoped for better from the Scots.
On four minutes, the hosts got up the pitch for the first time. It was nice to see skipper Andy Robertson make one of his Liverpool runs as he was played in by Christie but keeper Thibaut Courtois gathered his cross.
The Scots then won a freekick midway inside the opposition half that was floated into the box by Snodgrass but, remarkably, it led to a Belgium goal on nine minutes.
The ball broke out of the home box and was swept up by Mertens, who fired a perfect pass up the left flank to De Bruyne, leaving the Man City ace in a two v two situation.
He kept running forward and stayed cool, waiting on the right moment. De Bruyne, now at the edge of the box, played the ball into the path of Lukaku, who first-timed his left-foot shot into the net past helpless keeper David Marshall.
The Scots were playing some decent stuff but Lukaku should have made it 2-0 on 18 minutes when De Bruyne chipped the ball into the box and, unmarked, the Inter Milan man flicked his shot wide.
The deadly De Bruyne was involved again on 24 minutes when the Belgians did get a second.
He took a short corner out on the right to Thomas Meunier and, when the ball came back to him, he whipped it into the six-yard box, where former Arsenal defender Vermaelen was waiting to sidefoot it into the net.
On 29 minutes, Phillips raised the Scots fans’ spirits a little bit with a shot from outside the box that Courtois saved well.
It got a whole lot worse for Scotland on 33 minutes when they fell three behind. Once again, De Bruyne was the architect and his corner from the right was headed into the net via the bar by Alderweireld. It bounced down and back out again but, with a hapless Phillips standing behind the line, there was no doubt that it was a goal.
Thankfully, that was that for the first half and boos rang out as the players left the pitch.
After the restart, Mertens curled a terrific shot around Scots defender Charlie Mulgrew and it took an excellent stop from Marshall to stop it sneaking inside the far post.
Robertson then made a run into the Belgian box but the end product wasn’t there and Courtois blocked.
As if the night wasn’t embarrassing enough, Scotland defender Stephen O’Donnell got himself booked for a ridiculous dive inside the Belgian box on 59 minutes. The Kilmarnock man should hang his head in shame.
As the hour ticked by, Snodgrass sent a freekick wide from a promising position.
After Scott McTominay picked up a booking that rules him out of the Russian return next month, De Bruyne threatened on the break only for Marshall to block.
De Bruyne looked an even better bet to grab a deserved goal on 72 minutes but his low shot whizzed past the post.
Robertson scooped the ball over his own bar three minutes later then Marshall saved Alderweireld’s header off the resultant corner.
Fittingly, the last piece of magic came from De Bruyne when he took a pass from Lukaku with eight minutes left and curled the ball home to make it 4-0.
As the fans made their weary way to the exits, Marshall prevented a fifth goal in stoppage time with a fine save off sub Yari Verschaeren.
Scotland: Marshall, O’Donnell, Robertson, Mulgrew, Cooper, McTominay, McGregor (Armstrong 68), McLean, Snodgrass, Phillips (Russell 77), Christie (McGinn 86). Subs not used: McLaughlin, MacGillivray, Forrest, McBurnie, Fraser, Bates, Devlin, Taylor.
Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Dendoncker, De Bruyne, Tielemans (Verschaeren 86), Lukaku, Mertens, Meunier (Raman 90), Chadli (Carrasco 77). Subs not used: Mignolet, Sels, Vanaken, Origi, Januzaj, Praet, Benteke, Batshuayi.
Referee: Pawel Gill (Poland).