Injuries and travel fatigue have hampered the Socceroos' abilities to gel as a cohesive unit both on and off the field, manager Graham Arnold says.
Australia have played aggressive, pressing football and scored ruthlessly in their qualification campaign to sit among Asia's form teams.
But Arnold is conservative in his assessment, saying his men have a long way to go to reach their full potential, both on and off the field.
"We are only at 30-40 per cent of where we will end up," he said.
"It takes time to build the continuity but also the rhythm of the games, the performances and, as I said, we are a long way off from the finished goods."
Arnold said individual players and the team require more time to hone their qualities and gel.
Starters like holding midfielder Mark Milligan, playmaker Tom Rogic, striker Jamie Maclaren and centre back Trent Sainsbury have all been hit by injuries early in the campaign in Asia.
Meanwhile, some overseas-based players have had to be rested due to the fatigue of travelling long distances across the continent.
That's making it difficult for Arnold to play his strongest line-up in particular, and for the wider squad to get to know each other's games and work as a cohesive unit.
"You know, how many games has Rhyan Grant played next to Trent Sainsbury? Five," Arnold said.
"So they are going to get better as time goes on, and you know Brad Smith, how many has he played with Milos Degenek, how many times has Milo Degenek played with Jimmy Jeggo.
"You know, those type of boxes everywhere around the pitch, connecting the players are only going to grow, and grow, and get better, and better as we go."
Defenders Sainsbury, Grant and Smith had varied responses when asked for their estimates of the squad's potential.
Smith simply agreed there was room for improvement without elaborating, while Grant admitted that Arnold continually reminded them what "per cent" they were at.
"I'm not sure where he thinks we're at at the moment, but no matter who you are playing for or where you're playing there's always room for improvement," he told AAP.
"That's definitely the case with us; as well as we are playing as as confident as we are, we know we can play better."
Sainsbury said the Socceroos definitely had a long way to go but was more sympathetic about the team's current level.
Initially he offered "65-70 per cent", but flashed a sheepish smile when told of his manager's estimate of 30-40 per cent.
"Nah we've definitely got a long way to go," Sainsbury told AAP.
"So we're going to be working hard to reach our goals and get this team really competitive at the next World Cup."
Winger Martin Boyle admitted it was easy to get ahead of themselves in the early stages of what will be a gruelling campaign involving at least 18 home and away fixtures.
"I think we just need to focus on us," he told AAP.
"We've got the foundations of an unbelievable squad and hopefully we can fulfil that."