Germany's 3-0 victory over the Irish at the Rhein Energie Stadion ensured that they will finish top of Group C and head for Brazil next summer, while their opponents will spend the close season reflecting on what might have been and plotting a route to the Euro 2016 finals.
However, they have an opportunity to lay down a marker in Dublin on Tuesday evening when they face Kazakhstan in their final qualifier with Whelan hoping interim manager Noel King will take a different approach.
The Stoke midfielder said: "We have got to finish on a high now, we know the group has been disappointing.
"For this game, Noel spoke about defending but come Tuesday we would love him to let the reins off a little bit and go out on a high against Kazakhstan and give the fans something to cheer about.
"We have to go out with a bang."
Ireland restored a measure of pride in defeat in Cologne in frustrating the Germans, who won 6-1 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year, for long periods.
The home side took a 12th-minute lead when Sami Khedira's long-range effort was deflected past keeper David Forde.
However, Forde turned in a fine individual display and pulled off excellent saves from Andre Schurrle and Thomas Muller before the break to keep the visitors in it.
Indeed, Ireland might have gone in level at half-time had Ciaran Clark's header not come back off the crossbar, and Anthony Stokes had two early chances after the restart.
But Schurrle extended Germany's advantage after 58 minutes and after more Forde heroics and another Irish flurry, Mesut Ozil made sure at the death.
Whelan said: "We created a few chances which was something to take from it. The scoreline doesn't reflect the game, even though Fordey made a few good saves."
As King and his players headed home, Germany boss Joachim Low was making preparations for a revenge mission as he attempts to make Sweden pay for spoiling his side's otherwise 100 per cent record.
The Germans were leading the Scandinavians 4-0 in October, only to succumb to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired fightback which saw the visitors snatch a 4-4 draw, and that will be very much in Low's mind when he sends his players out in the reverse fixture on Tuesday night.
He said: "Four-four after being 4-0 up, you will not be the media darling for that weekend.
"We had to take the flak for conceding four in a row, and there's no need to remind the team.
"We have played to our potential in the last two games and we have one more left.
"We have a score to settle with the Swedes, but all in the best professional manner."