Well thank God for that.
I know the more cynical souls amongst us are quite happy to chunter about the big tournaments being better when we're not in them, but I was pleased as punch for England last night. And especially for Roy Hodgson.
It's hard to think of a more honourable fellow than Woy. Even his acceptance that this was perhaps his greatest night as a football manager came with the rider that he didn't want to devalue what Switzerland achieved under his stewardship.
And you can't help but give the lovely old duffer a lot of credit for the way England played in the last two games. It was breezy, entertaining stuff. Caution thrown to the wind. Handbrake off. All right I'm not sure what else they could have done given they needed to WIN, but... it was almost as if Harry Redknapp was in charge.
Which of course he should've been. Harry'll tell you that. Everyone wanted him, you know. There are newborn babies entering the world in tears because of that decision. Everyone loves 'Arry. Apart, perhaps, from the Inland Revenue. And the FA. There is a whiff of something around Redknapp. It's called suspicion. And for all his geezery bonhomie he can't quite shake that off, bless 'im.
But that old samba soccer guru Roy Hodgson was the main man. Up until these last two fixtures he'd overseen a team that staggered out of one place after another clutching its single point like an asthmatic hanging on to his inhaler. The performances varied from poor to abject. The desire not to lose brought a deathly stiffness to everything the players did. The ball become as welcome a companion as a false widow spider on a toilet seat.
Roy meanwhile seemed blithely ignorant of the facts that lay before the rest of us. He thought the team had done well, except for the odd bad spell, and that a point was worthy of celebrating. The rest of us thought they were a bit shit.
My research (asking people in the pub) tells me that expectations are pretty low for this England side. There have been times when the successful exchange of four passes has been cause for optimism, it being such an improvement n all. None of this pessimism harms Roy.
Nor does having a full squad to choose from. The absence of Ashley Cole only helped England's cause with Baines delivering crosses like a left-pegged mop-topped Beckham. He is the best left-back we have now. Comfortably.
The selection of Andros Townsend was Hodgson's true bit of inspiration. The lad was a loanee at that den of iniquity Queens Park Rangers last season. He was part of that football club experiment which we might now sum up in seven words "Splash The Cash And Cross Your Fingers." He returned to a Tottenham bursting at the seams with new signings and you were wondering who was going to borrow him next.
And now he's been as good as anyone in an England shirt in his first two games, although I was bit suspicious that Andros Townsend's man of the match award v Montenegro was chosen by Andy Townsend. Corruption runs deep in football.
His pace terrified the opposition full-backs. He revealed a very decent right foot to go with his excellent left. Unlike Walcott, he didn't burst into space, lift his head and pick out some more empty space. Unlike Young, he tried to play the game in an upright position. Unlike Milner, he looked like he might do something creative with the ball. And he can't half belt it when he wants to. A brilliant pick.
Gerrard too deserves praise for his contribution. He's not quite the bloke that single-handedly secured Rafa Benitez's reputation at Liverpool in 2005, but he's a wiser soul now. He looks at ease with himself. And he's still got enough puff to get up the park and toe-poke in the decisive goal.
Rooney looks like he might be near his best too. He's looking pretty secure in front of goal and that Desperate Dan grin hasn't been seen this often in an England shirt since he was the boy Shrek of 2004. The naff headgear needs to stay, Wazza. It's working.
Of course there are concerns: Welbeck continues to float around like a great fragile moth. He seems to need about eighteen touches before he can shoot. You can praise the lad's movement and his link-up play (although that was erratic last night) but ultimately he's supposed to score goals and I still don't reckon he'll get enough.
Poland's best attacks came from our corners. It was alarming how easy it was to run the length of the pitch without getting challenged. No one went to the ball. Everyone just ran back towards the goal as if they thought that enough of them could queue up on the goal-line we might just be okay. It reminded me of the 4-1 defeat to Germany. That sort of defending. Scary. But they got away with it... just.
And maybe that's the price you pay when you actually try and win a game of football. Certainly there was a bit more incision up front and the interchanging front four were bordering on a revelation.
But no, England will not win the World Cup. Not even close. And there's nowt wrong with realistic expectations. Most of us support club sides where realism is essential. So a bunch of young lads with a couple of old heads and a decent method to them seems like quite a nice watch if you ask me. As long as we don't expect miracles.
Having said that, I can already see England's performance in their opening fixture of Brazil 2014. It'll be like every other one: nervy, cautious, scratchy, but a point is a point.