Sven-Goran Eriksson will find out England's first three World Cup rivals in Leipzig tonight, desperately hoping to avoid an Ashes rematch with Australia.
Eriksson admits if he had been fully aware of the sporting rivalry between the two nations he would never have sanctioned the infamous friendly with the Socceroos at West Ham in 2003.
The game is now notorious as the night Eriksson fielded two completely different sides in a match England lost 3-1.
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But for Swedish coach Eriksson, it provided an insight into how much Australian passion is reserved for beating England. And it is something he would prefer to avoid at next year's Finals in Germany.
"The English speaking countries are desperate to beat England in a big tournament, which is why I don't want to play against Australia or the United States," said Eriksson.
"But there is is a wider aspect to Australia.
"There is a sporting rivalry between the two countries. What I saw during the summer when England won the cricket was amazing.
"If I had known all about the rivalry, I would never have played that friendly against them.
"It was far from a friendly game. They wanted to beat us, and they did."
Fifa's surprising decision to install England as second seeds for the entire competition will allow Eriksson to breathe slightly easier as the 32 nations are pitted together in eight groups of four.
However, there are still some horrors lying in wait, not least in the 'European' pot which includes Holland, who Eriksson regards as the best side not to be seeded.
"We have played Holland three times in friendlies and they are a very good side," said Eriksson.
The Czech Republic are also possible opponents, as are Sweden, who England failed to beat in Japan four years ago, and the Ukraine, who include lethal striker Andrei Shevchenko in their ranks.
At least that group of potential opponents are well known, those who will arrive in Germany out of Africa could be more problematic to do homework on.
With the usual qualifiers Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa all eliminated, Eriksson may need to brush up on his knowledge of Angola, Togo and Ghana, who will all make their finals debuts.
"I will go to the African Nations Cup if we are drawn against an African team because there are some of these sides I know next to nothing about," he said.
Eriksson's desire to avoid the United States in the fourth pot is obvious enough given it also includes Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose impact on previous World Cups has been minimal, plus the co-hosts four years ago Japan and South Korea, who both exploited home advantage to the full but have never really excelled anywhere else.
Eriksson insists he will not be nervous before the draw, although he is hoping for better luck than he had in Japan when England were paired with Sweden, Argentina and Nigeria in the obligatory 'Group of Death'.
Meanwhile, Sir Geoff Hurst believes "the best English squad since 1970" have got what it takes lift the Cup - if Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen stay fit.
"England have a very good team and they are among the four or five teams who have a chance to win the World Cup," said the man who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final as England beat Gedrmany 4-2.
"They are among the usual suspects, like Brazil and Argentina. I also fancy Italy and maybe the Dutch.
"My only concern is that we will have a problem when either Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen will miss not one game but maybe three or four, either through injury or suspension. It is hard for a manager to replace the irreplaceable."
At Euro 2004, England took hosts Portugal to penalties despite losing Rooney to an ankle injury early in the quarter-finals clash.
Hurst added: "You saw what happened after his injury in Portugal. No one was capable of replacing him. But he showed he can perform at top international level."