Reports of the death of England's World Cup chances, have, it would seem, been somewhat exaggerated.
Doubts may still remain over Sven-G^ran Eriksson's ability to get the very best out of his talented 'golden generation', with his substitution of Shaun Wright-Phillips roundly booed at Old Trafford.
However, with a victory underpinned by Wayne Rooney's creativity and brought to fruition by the finishing prowess of Michael Owen and Frank Lampard, England ended their World Cup qualifying campaign on a winning note.
Their 2-1 victory ensured they topped their group, a situation that looked somewhat unthinkable after defeats by Denmark and Northern Ireland earlier this season.
And while it may take rather longer to restore confidence than to lose it, the shoots of recovery are at least now there, with the onus on Eriksson to complete the transformation over the coming months.
Once again, he was indebted to Owen, whose 22nd competitive goal for his country equalled Gary Lineker's World Cup record. It came from a neat back-heel after Joe Cole had lashed a fierce shot that was heading wide of the goalpost. It fired England into the lead just before half-time.
Then again, England's enduring vulnerability in defence was exposed almost immediately, with substitute Tomasz Frankowski striking the visitors' equaliser before the interval.
However, England came again and while the crowd booed Peter Crouch's arrival to replace Wright-Phillips, Lampard, who struck their penalty winner against Austria, proved his growing influence as he hit the winner with ten minutes left.
Eriksson was given some signs for encouragement by the deployment of Ledley King in the holding role - allowing Lampard to roam forward more freely - even if it may be a case of right tactic, wrong player.
Rooney, who was back after suspension, meanwhile passed a test of his temperament, with Kim Milton Nielsen, who sent him off at Villarreal only last month, officiating at Old Trafford.
He was on his best behaviour, hauling Radoslaw Sobolewski to his feet rather than contesting a harsh freekick decision awarded against him in the opening exchanges.
Indeed, Rooney was also at the centre of all of England's best moves, underlining his pivotal role in the side.
While he struck one freekick just wide and Lampard and the increasingly confident Luke Young also tried their luck, the best early chance fell to King, whose control let him down.
But despite some early misplaced passes, King's tackling ability came to England's rescue on several occasions in his experimental role as a holding midfielder.
When Rooney gave the ball away, he was quickly across to dispossess Sobolewski, while he also produced an excellent interception just as Tottenham team-mate Grzegorz Rasiak was poised to shoot.
It was still Rooney who was his side's creative force and one delightful turn left his marker dizzy as he fired a shot narrowly over the top.
Not that England were exactly at their best, but they still seized the lead on 43 minutes when Lampard's corner fell to Joe Cole on the edge of the penalty area and his shot was instinctively flicked through Sobolewski's legs by Owen from close range.
That should have been the cue for England to stamp their authority, but instead Kamil Kosowski was allowed to open up their defence down Poland's right flank before crossing for the unmarked Frankowski to strike his volley past Paul Robinson.
England did not wilt, however, with Wright-Phillips remaining dangerous whenever racing at defenders, but only until he actually had to cross the ball, making him the exact opposite of the man he was replacing, David Beckham.
Cole's crossing was just as unimpressive until he produced one pinpoint delivery for Owen, whose header was well saved by Artur Boruc.
Rooney also stabbed a clear chance over the bar after Ferdinand had headed down Lampard's corner, while Cole was several yards offside England's fans were becoming frustrated by their slow build-up, urging them to impose themselves on the game with the higher tempo that suits them so much better.
Not that Crouch's arrival to replace Wright-Phillips was the spark, but with Rooney dropping deeper and Lampard moving sideways, England got their second wind.
Celtic keeper Boruc pulled off two excellent saves, one from Owen and another to prevent an own goal but finally the breakthrough came with ten minutes left.
England poured through the midfield and when Owen clipped an inviting ball forward to Lampard, he thrashed his volley into the net.
Eriksson moved swiftly to reinforce his midfield with Alan Smith and Jermaine Jenas, and victory was duly achieved. So too was leadership of the group.