If the Premiership is the studio in which England's artists hone their talents, the World Cup is the gallery where they hope to hang their greatest works.
Masters like Diego Maradona, Pele, Eusebio and, more latterly, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane had been admired for what they achieved with their clubs, yet that esteem was transformed into worship when they transposed their abilities from the workshop of their domestic leagues to football's global canvas.
Nothing enhances a reputation more than the sight of the Jules Rimet Trophy, or Silvio Gazzaniga's modern replacement, being clenched between triumphant fingers.
Take Bobby Moore, for example. England's victorious captain was undoubtedly a wonderful player, but success in 1966 created the legend that the centre-back never had a bad game.
It is the 'Magnification Factor' that means Pele never missed, Maradona never let the ball bounce off one of his podgy thighs and Michel Platini never shinned it straight into touch.
In nine months' time, another artist will be hailed as the best in the world and, being competitive beasts by nature, there is not a Premiership player in this country who isn't wondering 'What if?'.
Birmingham City has more than its fair share of dreamers, Steve Bruce's commendably Anglo-centric purchasing policy has seen to that and for Emile Heskey, Matthew Upson, Nicky Butt, Jermaine Pennant and David Dunn, each game that approaches is another opportunity to convince Sven-G^ran Eriksson that theirs' is an expertise he would be foolish to travel without.
At the moment, they are a handful of aspirants looking from the outside in. The England manager has chosen his latest squad of 23 and claims that he knows at least 16 of the men he wants to accompany him to Germany next summer. They are not at the party yet, however.
The qualification process is expected to end in the next week, though anything less than two wins against Austria and Poland could leave them reliant on results elsewhere.
That means time is running out for the Birmingham quintet who are left with threequarters of the Premiership campaign and a sprinkling of friendlies before the final World Cup squad is announced.
Emile Heskey (striker) Probably the Birmingham player who came closest to making the cut for the latest wave of qualifiers, Heskey is an experienced international with 43 caps whose England career is unlikely to be over.
A quiet performance against Arsenal last weekend disguised a strong start to the current season in which he has made his physical presence felt and confirmed his reputation as the ideal strike partner.
Heskey single-handedly devastated West Bromwich Albion and his two goals breathed life into calls for his reinstatement to the national side.
His massive frame and unselfish attitude set him apart from the rest of Eriksson's diddy men - Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe - and he brings qualities that no other English striker can.
Once the Swede realises that Peter Crouch is not the target man Heskey could be, an opportunity to make up for his Euro 2004 misdemeanour - he gave away the free-kick from which Zidane equalised - should be his. World Cup prospects: Don't lose your passport Matthew Upson (centre-back) Unlike Heskey, there are no obvious shortcomings in Upson's game and the only thing keeping him out of the England set-up is an embarrassment of riches in central defence.
John Terry, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher and Ledley King are all ahead of the 26-year-old at the moment, although he was called up for the most recent matches against Wales and Northern Ireland.
A naturally left- sided defender, Upson has the class and pedigree to add to his seven England caps but the emergence of Carragher and return from injury of Campbell meant he was jettisoned for this weekend's games.
One injury - Campbell is becoming increasingly prone - or a loss of form - Ferdinand is well on his way - should be enough for the former Arsenal man to regain his place but Eriksson's slavish loyalty to those he knows means he is unlikely to leave out either man, barring amputation. World Cup prospects: Stand by and then probably stand-down Nicky Butt (midfield) Nicky Butt's stock has fallen so much it's hard to believe he is the same man Pele described as the best player in the last World Cup after watching him drag England to a win against Argentina.
Butt was brilliant that day; called into the team after a disappointing draw with Sweden, he suffocated his then-Manchester United team-mate Juan Sebastian Veron and forced the play-maker's withdrawal after just 46 minutes.
Things have not been as good since. His Old Trafford career stalled, there was a time when he was more valuable at international level than he was with his club and his move to Newcastle has been disastrous.
Former team-mate Steve Bruce has given him the chance to start again at St Andrew's, although nagging injuries and a four-match suspension have ensured he hasn't yet rediscovered his match fitness.
If it were ever to dawn on Eriksson that, with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham in his team, the midfield needs a holding man, Butt would still be the best option. On that basis alone, he should go to Germany and be given the chance to win his 39th cap. World Cup prospects: Hopeful, more than expectant
David Dunn (midfielder) International football? Are you kidding? Yes and no. Dunn has played virtually no football, he made just nine Premiership starts last season, since he tore his hamstring in February 2004.
His is a story that would make even the most stonehearted Blackburn Rovers fan weep as he has travelled the world and let surgeons loose all over his body, in the search for full fitness. He'd probably settle for consecutive starts with a Sunday League side at the moment.
But Dunn is a talent that England can ill-afford to be without. Like Heskey, there is no one like him in the domestic game. Bruce's conviction that the 25-year-old is the strongest man at St Andrew's is based on the fact that when he gets the ball, no-one knocks him off it.
Blessed with quick feet, balletic balance and a good change of pace, there is something of the Gascoigne about the former Ewood Park wunderkind. And we all know what impact Gazza had on the biggest stage.
Dunn's first priority is returning to the Birmingham first team, playing the rest of the season and rediscovering the form that persuaded Eriksson to play him against Portugal in September 2002. World Cup prospects: Tighter than his hamstring
Jermaine Pennant (winger) Pennant's biggest problem could be nothing to do with his past - it's the fact that he plays in Beckham's position. If Eriksson ever tried to drop the England captain, Beckham would sack the Swede.
That notwithstanding, Pennant is currently Birmingham's best attacking option and a player who has consistently performed since Bruce took him on loan last January.
Even when City play badly, something that's happened a lot in the last few months, the right winger has emerged with credit and looks a genuine international.
Pennant has searing pace, is a brilliant dribbler and more importantly makes his trickery count with the quality of delivery that has helped Heskey thrive.
If he was called up, though, the hand-wringers would go into overdrive after Pennant served a prison sentence for driving offences earlier this year. Eriksson probably isn't bold or imaginative enough to pick him.
But, at 22 years old , although Germany might be too soon, South Africa 2010 probably isn't.