It was a flat, uninspired display in Budapest, bearing all the hallmarks of a post-season warm down that kicked off in England’s Nations League campaign.
A trip to Munich ought to be the perfect remedy, but there is a growing danger that these fixtures, with their regularity and lack of obvious significance, threaten to dampen a rivalry that was formerly made special by its sense of occasion.
Germany are winless too, drawing 1-1 with Italy. Hansi Flick, though, is establishing a tempo, 10 games unbeaten since the defeat to England at Euro 2020.
No such luxury for the Three Lions; 2022 is the moment Gareth Southgate and his players must seize if they are to avoid another dissipated opportunity and a generation passed. The World Cup is now just five months away.
Even so, Southgate will experiment and he used the Hungary match to blood James Justin. It did not go well, his manager conceding “a couple of passes went astray, [he] got caught defensively early on”, before he was taken off at half time with a calf problem.
That means he is unlikely to be risked again and it potentially leaves England short at the back, with Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi both doubts. John Stones is available and could replace Conor Coady in a defensive three.
Phil Foden will also be out after testing positive for Covid.
Raheem Sterling has recovered from illness and is in contention to start. Harry Kane will lead the attack as he continues his bid to overhaul Wayne Rooney as England’s leading goalscorer of all time; he is currently four goals off top spot, so that record is not expected to fall in Munich.
Predicted England XI: Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Phillips, Saka; Sterling, Kane, Grealish