Roy Hodgson’s England – rather like our recently relegated Wolves – might be incapable of reversing old habits on the pitch, but they have at least overturned one footballing myth.
Thanks to the Three Lions’ possession surrendering performance against Italy, not to mention our season-long Premiership stinker, whoever coined the phrase that footballers win games and not formations is completely and utterly wrong.
Take Terry Venables’ Euro 96 squad, still held as a sporting Concorde of evolution, which is as progressive on the eye today as it is completely obsolete.
Three different formations in one single tournament, Anderton and McManaman meandering like Spaghetti Junction and a well-oiled model of fluidity still trumpeted in the tabloids.
In Roy (and Mick / TC’s) Grave New World, should El Tel’s vintage be magically super-speeded to the present day, it would still have crashed out at the quarter final stages, never mind win against Holland 4-1.
That damn forsaken 4-4-2 formation would put pay to any notion of success as Southgate would have rigidly sat alongside Adams, while Ince and Gascoigne would have tracked back to help out an overstretched defence as two isolated wingers shrugged their shoulders.
Gazza would lie on his back behind the goal, not for a ‘Dentist’s Chair’ but an emergency act of resuscitation in the second half.
Alan Shearer’s right hand would be exclusively on his right hip and not in the air in obligatory goal celebration.
Teddy Sheringham wouldn’t have even seen the light of day, replaced instead by Brian Deane as we’re spoon fed the virtues of ‘the big man up top.’
In glorious Wembley sunshine, tired minds would give way to tired bodies as a 39 per cent possession count takes its toll.
Damn you British summer and your 25 degree temperatures.
Holland, spurred on by the youthful Clarence Seedorf, assumes total control as a nation shrinks into inferiority mode.
It is left to the ‘technically superior’ Denis Bergkamp to administer the final blow, remaining icy cool from 12 yards to seal our miserable fate.
Knowing what is more depressing is the toughest part.
The fact that the very scenario sounds remotely believable, or the fact that the video of our unlikely 4-1 triumph has been played more than a million times by a nation still clinging to a 16 year-old memory.
A memory that should really have faded by now.
Ninety one big hoofs in Euro 2012, 29 desperate blocks and an average of 39 per cent possession throughout the tournament means our Netherlands conquest burns brighter than the orange jerseys we beat.
In the red shirts of Liverpool or Manchester United, 300 passes per match would be laughed at.
For possession surrendering cowardice, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney would have been screamed at (by Sir Alex).
Replicating players’ club form for country is one thing.
Playing the most antiquated and outdated formation when they get there is quite another.
Let’s just hope Stale had paused one of his 38 DVDs to take note!