Andy Murray
Murray's 2014 season ended on emphatic fashion at the hands of Federer in LondonGetty Images

Disconsolate, dejected and powerless – and that was just at the end of the first set. Andy Murray has always been a sportsman who has worn his heart on his sleeve and mid-way through his destruction at the hands of a majestic Roger Federer his deepest emotions were there for all to see.

Federer has made a career out of overwhelming opponents, making the sublime look graceful, and though the 17-time grand slam champion produced arguably his finest hard court performance of the year it was Murray's display in winning just one game during a 58 torturous minutes which will be the overriding memory.

Though a harrowing year since undergoing back surgery has provided many reminders as to Murray's challenge of returning to the inner-sanctum of men's tennis alongside Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, in less than an hour the true reality of the test facing the Brit was spelt out.

Despite being 11 months removed from returning from back surgery in Abu Dhabi, Murray's fitness is significantly short of what is required at the summit of men's tennis. To justify a passive, defensive game which has defined Murray's two grand slam titles and Olympic gold he needs more miles in his legs. His Miami training camp either side of the festive period should begin to rectify that.

There also remain shots in the Murray artillery which have lost their punch. The Scot's second serve has never been the strongest on the tour, but it has looked horribly exposed of late while cracks have emerged in his expert backhand.

Both deficiencies may have been affected by back problems last year and Murray will review video footage during preparations for next season in order to divulge information regarding a possible subtle change of action.

Marginal glitches they may appear, but they have contributed to Murray dropping to his lowest world ranking for six years and failing to reach a major final during a calendar year for the first time since 2009.

Murray's run to the ATP World Tour Finals in London smacked of an attempt to paper over a desperate season, where he had failed to get back the last four in any of the year's four grand slams. Victories in Shenzhen, Vienna and Valencia, though accompanied by important ranking points, were hollow in terms of indications that he was returning to his best form.

Defeats to Kei Nishikori, Federer and even victory over an injury-debilitated Milos Raonic are a timely reality check for the British No.1 ahead and are test of his relationship with new coach Amelie Mauresmo.

Ending 76 years of hurt and delivering a first men's singles title at Wimbledon in the summer of 2013 may rank as one of Murray's finest achievements but returning to that pedestal as British sport's finest may be his toughest challenge yet.