China, which won every individual table tennis medal on offer at the Beijing Games in 2008, made an ominously fast start to a march towards another probable sweep on Sunday.
Ding Ning, the women's world champion, did that with an impressively fluent performance with both words and deeds as she beat Daniela Dodean, a former European doubles champion from Romania, by 11-4, 11-3, 11-9, 11-6.
Ding, reportedly nicknamed "Da Baobei" -- meaning "big baby" -- was in fact anything but that, despite her smooth and almost pre-pubescent appearance.
Repeatedly Ding was quizzed about how she dealt with constantly being expected to win, and each time she had a slightly different answer ready.
"I felt pressure, yes, but at the same time I am very prepared because I am number one, and so I have been prepared for it," she said.
"We have always face the question, how do we deal with it? But we have a sports psychology team. We have supporters in China as well."
Then when she was encouraged to say still more about it, she pointed out that Dodean had pressure too, pressure which helped most Chinese players.
"Her pressure is in a way good, because opponents know it is hard to beat the Chinese team, and they are prepared to lose. That's a different pressure."
With new rules allowing only two players per country, Li Xiaoxia, the runner-up in the world championships, has targetted joining Ding in the Olympic final as well.
Li, however, had to work much harder to get past Ariel Hsing, the youngest ever United States champion at the age of 15 two years ago, and reportedly a friend of Bill Gates, who is said to be coming.
In a match of rat-a-tat-tat close-to the table hits and counter-hits in which it was often hard to see the ball, Li had moments of distinct tension before squeezing through by four games to two - 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9.
Men's world champion Zhang Jike, and world number two Wang Hao, start Monday, along with their nearest rival Jun Mizutani of Japan, and Timo Boll, the fourth seeded former world number one from Germany.
Zhang is trying to become the fourth man to win all three major titles, the world championship, the World Cup, and the Olympics.
Jorgen Persson, Jean-Michel Saive, and Zoran Primorac, the old musketeers of table tennis, were all bundled out of the Olympics -- for the last time in Persson's case -- and possibly for Saive and Primorac too.
The former world champion from Sweden, the former world number one from Belgium, and the former Olympic silver medallist from Croatia are the only players to have competed in all seven Olympics of which table tennis has been a part, and all three said farewell in the second round.
Persson, aged 46, was outplayed 11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 by Andrej Gacina, the world number 58 from Croatia.
Saive, aged 42, was beaten 5-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 by Kalinikos Kreanga, the 40-year-old former World Cup runner-up from Greece.
Primorac, aged 43, lost a thriller 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8 to El-Sayad Lashin the world number 123 from Egypt.
But another old-timer, Werner Schlager, the 39-year-old former world champion from Austria, did survive, in six games against Mihai Bobocica, the world number 96 from Italy.
He now gets a crack at Wang Hao, the Chinese player who won Olympic silver medals in Athens and Beijing -- and who is seeded to do the same in London.