Injuries are the scourge of the international manager, we know this only too well, but is there ever an excuse for such a disjointed and unintelligent coming together of England players as we witnessed at Wembley last night?
This was the England we suffered in South Africa, bereft of imagination and thrust, and betraying the hopes of a nation with an almost clueless disregard for the tactical framework of football at the highest level.
Fabio Capello didn't have many decisions to make last night. Those he made, he got hopelessly wrong.
Why was Adam Johnson, arguably the best crosser of the ball in the squad, resigned to a substitutes' role on the night Capello gave Andy Carroll his debut?
Why was Phil Jagielka, a man on the fringes of the set-up in his natural central defensive role, preferred at right-back to Micah Richards?
Why was Peter Crouch, who pretty much scores on command with an England shirt on his back, not given the chance to start at Wembley - in the absence of all those who outrank him on a regular basis?
And why oh why, when Capello decided to make an attacking change, did he opt first for a 28-year-old debutant from the Championship with the prolific Crouch sat prone in the dugout?
Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc's France delivered a lesson in progress. After the embarrassments of their World Cup campaign, France have regrouped with sparkling success.
How England yearns for a player in the mould of Yoann Gourcoff, Florent Malouda, Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema or Mathieu Valbuena.
France have all five, and the combination was a humbling site for England fans suffering the miserable drizzle at Wembley.
In contrast England's midfield looked pedestrian. Gareth Barry was sluggish and Jordan Henderson looked every bit the novice. Frank Lampard, for all his mediocrity on international duty, has nothing to fear.
Ultimately it was a footballing lesson for Capello and his team, one that has been taught on countless occasions during the Italian's reign, but continues to go unheeded.
Something has to give.