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1). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he couldn’t fill a concert hall now.

2). He was a popular singer back in the 90's. But I'm sure that he can’t fill a concert hall now.

What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences? I know could is used for hypothetical cases. But what is the possible hypothetical case in the sentence1?

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  • Could (have the potential)

  • Can (have the ability)

  1. Couldn’t fill a concert hall (lack potential of filling a concert hall)
  1. Can't fill a concert hall (lack ability to fill a concert hall)

If 'couldn’t' is the past tense of 'can', then it means the same as #2

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