TEAMtalk reckons Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Ukraine proves England's route to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be anything but plain sailing.
The Wembley night was still and dry but Roy Hodgson's England were caught cold under a sharp shower of reality.
Suddenly Brazil in 2014 seemed a very long way away as Ukraine, with a 1-1 draw, inflicted a potentially damaging blow to England's hopes of World Cup qualification.
This should have been a rock-solid three-pointer for a team with ambitions of progressing deep into a major tournament in two years' time.
Instead, Hodgson's England looked drab and diffident. They lacked creativity and imagination. They lacked ruthlessness in front of goal.
And while a concerted late rally provided an 87th-minute equaliser from the penalty spot for Frank Lampard after Ukraine defender Yevhen Khacheridi had handled the ball you really could not get away from the fact that this was a very bad night at the office.
Why, England even finished with 10 men after captain Steven Gerrard was sent off for a second yellow card.
"What a load of rubbish" was the reaction of a sprinkling of fans long before the final whistle and the obvious conclusion was that Hodgson has plenty of work to do.
Let's first give credit to Ukraine, however, for whom Yevgen Konoplianka scored with a quite splendid 25-yard first-half curling shot which was smothered in class and rich in technique and demonstrated just what England might yet have to face in a Group H which is suddenly looking anything but the easy ride it was meant to be.
Yes, England's opening qualifier against Moldova last Friday was impressive in terms of the 5-0 scoreline. But Moldova were ranked 141st in the world. That was no worthwhile test.
By contrast, Ukraine were ranked 39th, one above Belgium and two below Hungary. They presented a much clearer danger, especially as they were unlucky to have lost 1-0 against England at Euro 2012.
Ukraine possess tricky, technically gifted, dangerous players. Men such as Andriy Yarmolenko, Oleg Gusev, Ruslan Rotan and Konoplianka.
Yet so much of the first half from England's point of view was a familiar old story, England giving the ball away too cheaply. One of the main culprits was Tom Cleverley.
The Manchester United midfielder was one of the surging young guns against Moldova, all verve and energy. Against Ukraine the energy levels were just as high, the precision, however, left much to be desired.
Too often the ball did not stick to his boots, bouncing instead to men in blue shirts.
Unfortunately, England's best chance of the first half fell to him after Jermain Defoe had headed across goal. Cleverley somehow managed to fire it from point-blank range straight at Ukraine goalkeeper Andrei Piatov when really he should have scored.
That is what happens with young guns. Sometimes they misfire when cooler, more experienced heads would not. It was no surprise when Cleverley was replaced by club-mate Danny Welbeck after an hour.
Of course, the return of the injured Wayne Rooney would make a big difference to England's penetration.
The most worrying aspect for Hodgson, however, was the ease at times with which Ukraine sliced through the English defence. The way they were able to swarm at England when possession was lost.
Centre-back Phil Jagielka provided a classic example, giving the ball away to Konoplianka in the second half and then being out-paced by the Ukrainian, whose cross was happily deflected for a corner by Leighton Baines.
The return of the injured Ashley Cole and John Terry would make a difference too. It would offer more solidity, but that just highlights England's problem. Not enough top-class players. Not a deep enough pool of quality, as Sir Bobby Charlton pointed out recently, for Hodgson or any English manager to choose from.
True, the influential Welbeck hit the post with a volley from point-blank range in the second half and England might have scored two or three, The same, however, could be said for their opponents.
It was lottery-type football. The problem with lotteries is that you lose more often than you win, which is why Hodgson wore the look of a relieved man with San Marino and Poland to come next month.
His team need to improve fast.
By Frank Malley