Gareth Southgate has long believed England can play technically proficient, possession football on the biggest stage – now they must prove it in their World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday.
Former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England centre-back Southgate was parachuted into the national team job following Sam Allardyce's ignominious sacking in 2016, despite having not held a senior coaching position since being sacked by Boro on the other side of relegation in 2009.
But the 47-year-old honed his craft and methodology under the employ of the Football Association and a stint in charge of England Under-21s positioned him to pick up the pieces after Allardyce fell foul of a newspaper sting.
Southgate has brought an England team to Russia more certain and defined in their style of play than any in recent memory, having settled upon a flexible 3-1-4-2 formation.
Nevertheless, Monday's assignment in Volgograd remains the acid test.
"The players have really embraced it. I think they like playing possession football," Southgate told a pre-match news conference.
"That's the way they play with their clubs, although there are tactical nuances between each coach.
"They have a hunger to press and win the ball back. They want to play brave football and be a bold and attacking team.
"That's the way I want us to play and that's the reason I joined the FA as Under-21 coach – I believed young English players could show something different.
"There was a perception across the world and a perception of English football. I thought it was possible to change that.
"I've seen without youth teams that's started to happen and now we're looking to convert that into the senior team."
The relatively low initial expectations and building enthusiasm around Southgate's youthful squad stands in stark contrast to the star names from earlier this century, who failed to match weighty demands from Three Lions supporters.
"I think the history can help us in terms of understanding what we can improve upon and what we can do better. You learn lessons from the past," Southgate said.
"This team shouldn't be burdened with it because they're a fresh group. Most of them have very few international caps so the future is all ahead of them.
"They've got to be thinking about what is possible. The players of the past and the opportunities of the past are gone.
"This team is looking at things in a different way, trying to play in a different way. We have better technical players than we've had in the past coming through our academies.
"There is a real enthusiasm and they're looking forward to getting going."
13. November 2018
|Anthony Davis leads Pelicans; Clippers hold off Warriors in OT|
|Lindelof rues international break for Man Utd|
|Shaqiri confident in more goals for Liverpool|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Southgate named honorary Yorkshireman|
|Nicky Butt: Manchester United low on confidence|
|Sissoko: Dembele criticism overblown|
|Thibodeau discusses Butler trade: We thought this was the best deal for us|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|LeBron James on Lakers’ early season struggles: ‘I almost cracked’|
|Welbeck has successful second operation on broken ankle|
|UEFA warns FFP cases can be reopened based on ´new information´|
12. November 2018
|Foakes to keep England place for second Test|
|WATCH: Rooney looking sharp in England training return|
|Mbappe: Money in football is truly indecent|
|Djokovic back to brilliant best as Isner is beaten|
|Celta Vigo replace Mohamed with Cardoso after Real Madrid defeat|
|Joshua intrigued by Usyk, says Hearn|
|Ibrahimovic beats Rooney to MLS Newcomer award|
|Rams WR Kupp out for season with torn ACL|
|Sturridge denies ever gambling on football following FA charge|
|Koeman understands De Ligt´s Eredivisie frustrations|
|Jimmy Butler trade: 76ers acquire Timberwolves star in blockbuster deal|
|´Improve your attitude´ - Deschamps issues Dembele warning|
|Sturridge charged with misconduct over alleged breach of betting rules|
|Saints sign Marshall following Bryant injury|
|Mendy suffers knee injury, leaves France squad with Lacazette|
|Zverev beats Cilic in error-strewn London battle|
|Rafinha replaces injured Casemiro in Brazil squad|
|´One-dimensional´ Australia batsmen need work before World Cup - Finch|
|Mancini keen to work with ´incredibly gifted´ Tonali|
|Italian manager of the year Allegri targets long Juve stay|
|Injured Lee departs as Wales prepare squad for Tonga|
|Conte content to wait until June for coaching return|
|Etzebeth set to return, Whiteley a doubt for Scotland Test|
|In-form Verstappen does not need distractions from 2019 challenge|
|FA asks Guardiola to explain Manchester derby referee comments|
|LaLiga MVP Messi hopes the division stays wide open|
|Murray and Henshaw out of All Blacks Test|
|Injured Man Utd duo Pogba and Martial drop out of France squad|
|Modric cannot always be the best - Dalic|
|Very troubling times - LeBron James alarmed by gun violence|
|Bayern confirm Ribery ´altercation´ with reporter|
|Madrid hit by injuries to Nacho and Casemiro|
|Record-breaking Mushfiqur torments Zimbabwe|
|Spartak Moscow appoint Oleg Kononov|
|Rooney predicts ´exciting time´ after being named in MLS Best XI|
|Former England call-up Graham replaces Thomson in Scotland squad|
|Slater and Thurston among Queensland greats to join Maroons staff|
|Rapana set for six months out after shoulder surgery|
|Alves determined to play in the Premier League|
|Rockets GM denies Anthony will be waived|
|Monaco´s plight not Henry´s fault - Silva|
|It´s like the FBI came - River assistant unable to talk to Gallardo during final|
|Norman says Washington home crowds ´just don´t really care´|
|Bucks beat Nuggets to finish gruelling schedule stretch|
|Madrid ´very happy´ with Solari, says Butragueno|
|Titans stun Patriots, Browns upset Falcons|
|Browns´ Chubb relishes record-breaking performance: It definitely is very special|
|MLS Review: Red Bulls, Atlanta to meet in conference finals|
|Neymar wants more from perfect PSG|
|Higuain is feeling a lot of pressure – Gattuso|
|I didn´t insult anyone, says apologetic Higuain|
|Allegri delighted with Juventus response|
|Kyle Busch wins at Phoenix as Harvick, Truex qualify for Championship 4|
|WATCH: Highlights of thrilling Boca-River Copa Libertadores final|
|PSG coach Tuchel demands more despite Monaco thrashing|
|Boca missed too many chances, rues Schelotto|
|Solari remains tight-lipped on Real Madrid future|
|Hamilton not surprised by Verstappen-Ocon collision|