There may be no team at the Olympic Games with more potential to shock — or shame — than China’s men’s hockey squad.

Ranked 32nd in the world and competing in Beijing only because of a tradition granting the host nation an entry in every sport, the team is expected to muster no better than a middling showing on Olympic ice.

No matter the outcome of the team’s Olympic run, which started last week with an 8-0 loss to the youngest American team since 1994, doubts surrounding the squad are symptomatic of China’s persistent stumbles in team sports and reflect an ambitious nation that is built around a collectivist ideal it has often failed to realize at the world’s stadiums and arenas.