Ian Baraclough and Stephen Kenny will spend the next few months reflecting on what should have been while studying a school report which reads 'must do better'.
The similarities are striking. Two former League of Ireland and Under-21 managers aiming to silence the doubters and prove they can thrive at senior international level.
Two friends now searching for the same Euro 2020 play-off hangover cure and a way to win football matches.
Both were given glimpses of new, promising talent, but a lack of creativity and finishing power is crystal clear.
The Republic may have escaped relegation in the Nations League but there's no escaping the sinking feeling of a lack of inspiration on the pitch.
And yet in the middle of all the sporting heartbreak, there's a poignant reminder of what really matters.
The loss of Kyle Lafferty's sister and James McCarthy's father placed all the hurt into perspective.
Regarding the on field matters, no-one should question the character of the players, but you need more than just spirit and courage to win matches.
Both Irish sides have a combined record in the Nations League of 20 matches played and no wins.
The Republic have gone eight games without a win under their new boss - and now 11 hours without a goal after the 0-0 draw with Bulgaria in Dublin.
They have scored only 16 goals in 27 competitive matches, dating back to March 2017.
And Kenny has enough on his mind without having to deal with the fallout from a video message shown to the squad before the England game.
Northern Ireland's Nations League Group B record reads 10 games, two draws and eight defeats. Both Baraclough and Kenny are reaching for positives, as are the supporters, and that's perfectly natural when the disappointment cuts so deep.
But the pressure is on to find a winning formula ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, which will be even tougher than the Nations League tests.
Both managers need the World Cup draw to be kind to them next month but, more importantly, the players must find a way to win.
The Covid-19 restrictions, injuries and lack of supporters hasn't made the job any easier, but they can't be excuses.
Corry Evans' injury and Jordan Jones' Covid-19 breach upset Baraclough but he still had sufficient talent to make the finals.
We know how hostile Windsor Park can be when the floodlights are on, but the players gifted a victory to Slovakia.
Would Northern Ireland have beaten Slovakia if Michael O'Neill had been in charge? Given the manner of the two goals they conceded, the answer is no.
George Saville, who has been dealing with personal issues, left Jonny Evans scrambling back for the opener and Bailey Peacock-Farrell missed a ball at his near post.
It's easy to have sympathy for managers.
Football is a game of fine margins, and luck helps, but the lack of a ruthless touch is a major concern for both managers.
Better teams than Slovakia are capable of scoring more than two goals at Windsor Park, as Norway demonstrated, so in that scenario where are Northern Ireland's three goals to win a game coming from?
There were 1,266 days between Liam Boyce's first goal against New Zealand in 2017 and his opener against Romania. Hopefully he can establish himself as the first choice in attack, but the frontline is the one area of the pitch where options are not too appealing.
If the positives aren't results, they are in the emerging talent of Ali McCann and Daniel Ballard for Northern Ireland, with Michael Smith impressing in a holding midfield role.
For all the talk about Ethan Galbraith, with Baraclough even comparing the Manchester United midfielder to Barcelona greats Andreas Iniesta and Xavi, it was McCann who weaved magic.
Ballard's performances are a huge plus, but he's still maturing at this level, while Matty Kennedy has emerged as another strong option on the wing.
Dara O'Shea, Jayson Molumby and Jason Knight have stepped up for the Republic but, let's be honest, in the international triple header, new players were always likely to make an impact.
The honeymoon period for both Baraclough and Kenny is over.
The World Cup qualifiers will be accompanied by strong criticism if a winning formula is still missing.
Baraclough was upbeat after the draw with Romania, saying he was pleased with the performance but, once again, the players were unable to see the job through from a winning position.
Like in Austria, they wilted late on. But the Irish FA don't need a history lesson in keeping faith with managers.
Michael O'Neill's first win as manager came 10 games into his tenure, a 1-0 home win over Russia in a World Cup qualifier, but it's important to remember that the current Stoke City boss inherited a squad badly in need of organisation and direction.
Baraclough was given a strong hand and his remit was to make the Euro 2020 finals and land that £9m jackpot.
The players like and respect him, but against Slovakia their wounds were self-inflicted.
In Kenny's defence, injuries and Covid cases have ravaged his squad but that worst goalscoring run in history has to end.
In their play-off semi-final against Slovakia, the chances were simply not taken.
Kenny has been unable to implement a style or plan ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
At least Baraclough has identified a 3-5-2 system which can work provided the players stick to their roles and concentrate for the full game.
O'Neill was a hard act to follow, and the fans are desperate for Baraclough to succeed, but a lack of creativity in the final third must be addressed.
Steven Davis, as wonderful a servant as he has been to Northern Ireland, can't match the energy levels of McCann.
Could the skipper no longer be a certain starter? Baraclough must make brave calls.
A year which started with so much promise for the Republic and Northern Ireland ended in despair.
The Euro finals next summer will be a tough watch.
Before then, the Kenny and Baraclough eras must escape this turbulence and start producing results.
The lessons learned in 2020 must lead to a more prosperous 2021.
The 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign is the time to make judgments.
The Republic and Northern Ireland must be competitive and clinical.
Hunger and desire isn't enough. Improvement is needed.
If not, Baraclough and Kenny will be on thin ice.