Jia Xiuquan's team were outclassed by a five-star Brazil in their first encounter of the tournament, while Zambia's defence was breached 10 times by a ruthless Netherlands outfit.
The excellence of Brazilian veteran Marta shone through after just nine minutes of their clash with China on the opening matchday, as the six-time World Player of the Year winner broke the deadlock early on and the floodgates opened thereafter.
The 35-year-old would notch up a brace on the day while Debinha, Andressa and Beatriz also got in on the act to seal a comfortable 5-0 win for the South American powerhouses, and China's six-game unbeaten run across all competitions came to a bitter end behind closed doors.
Manager Xiuquan accepted responsibility for his side's humbling and paid tribute to his players for giving it their all against a Marta-inspired Brazil, but it was always going to be a difficult ask for China to get one over the world's seventh-ranked nation.
China find themselves occupying third spot in Group F following their opening-day thrashing - a ranking which may still be enough to seal a knockout berth depending on how well they perform in the coming days - and they can take solace in the fact that they did not concede in the double figures, which is more than can be said for Zambia.
Rising star Barbra Banda may have chalked up a hat-trick on the day, but there was very little else for Zambia to cheer about against the Netherlands, whose own prolific centre-forward Vivianne Miedema made the net ripple four times in Tokyo.
Miedema's recently-departed Arsenal teammate Jill Roord also found the back of the net alongside Lieke Martens (two), Shanice van de Sanden, Lineth Beerensteyn and Victoria Pelova, as Zambia took part in the highest-scoring women's game ever at the Olympics and came out on the wrong end of a staggering scoreline.
With 100 places separating the two nations in the FIFA World Rankings, it was hardly surprising to see the Dutch assume their dominance early doors, and Zambia women's first-ever appearance at the Olympics is at risk of a premature end barring a miracle in their next two games.
Bruce Mwape's side were certainly not expected to challenge for a top-two berth before the first ball was kicked in Tokyo, but Banda - who plays her football in China with Shanghai Shengli - knows where the back of the net is, so attack may be the best form of defence for the Copper Queens here.
Xiuquan's crop had their moments against Brazil, despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise, and the 57-year-old could elect to keep faith in the majority of his players who featured from the first whistle on Wednesday.
However, 120-cap defender Wu Haiyan reportedly missed out the loss to Brazil due to injury, and the 28-year-old's experience was evidently missed by her team.
Zambia defender Martha Tembo was forced to miss the opener with the Netherlands through suspension, but she is eligible to play here and ready to slot into the rearguard or midfield if necessary.
Twenty-one-year old forward Banda made history with her stellar opening game at the Olympics - not only did she score Zambia Women's first ever goal at the games, but she became the first ever women's player from Africa to net three times at the quadrennial tournament.
China PR Women possible starting lineup:
Shimeng; Guiping, Xiaoxue, Lina, Mengwen; Shuang, Qingtong, Siwen, Xin; Wurigumula, Shanshan
Zambia Women possible starting lineup:
Nali; Belemu, Mulenga, Tembo, Siamfuko; Lungu, Wilombe; Chitunda, Chanda, Banda; Mubanga
We say: China PR Women 4-1 Zambia Women
The gulf in class was evident in both of these teams' opening games at the Tokyo Olympics, and it may be a similar story for Zambia here, even with Banda leading the charge in the final third.
While the Copper Queens always have a chance of increasing their goals tally with the 21-year-old on form, we expect China to consign their midweek profligacy to history as they get off the mark at the second attempt.