The fallout from England's most inept performance for half a decade must be heavy and widespread.

If Andy Robinson is to lead his team to anything other than ignominious failure at next year's World Cup then he has to make changes.

Since becoming world champions in November 2003 England have stood still, wasted the intervening years and, if the evidence of consecutive try-less defeats in Edinburgh and Paris is worth anything, even regressed.

Not only have they stagnated in some sort of tactical vacuum but all but two of his starting XV, Charlie Hodgson and Steve Thompson, must have question marks over their international futures. In short, with just 18 months to go until France 2007 England have in place neither the personnel nor the plan to defend their title.

Firstly they have to decide what they want to be. It is unclear whether Robinson is trying to model his team on the forward-orientated, territorially-focused monsters of the early 1990s or the more expansive runners of the mid-Woodward term.

While he dribbles on about winning in different styles he has failed to nail his colours to Plan A. If it's a pick and driving mauling game, then so be it.

The critics won't like it but after all that's the way Woodward, Wilkinson and Johnson won the thing in the first place. The significance of that victory far outweighed a ny discussions about its aesthetics.

And if he wants to open up and really believes he has the range of talent and positive thinkers to do so, then he should start now and dispense with the up-the-jumper merchants.

It's fine to have two ways to play but I suspect at the moment this England team is caught between the two. They claim to have the desire, and more ludicrously the ability, to be an expansive team but don't seem to follow it through with action.

Hodgson, the finest footballing stand-off in the northern hemisphere, you can't really call Frederic Michalak a true outside-half, is having his confidence sapped by the paucity of the men outside him.

Even Josh Lewsey, in many ways the proto-type modern fullback, looks a quivering wreck of indecision. While none of his team mates have played well in the last fortnight, none of them has fallen from a star so bright as Lewsey's.

Which leaves Robinson where?

These players have not become substandard overnight, instead they have been constantly undermined by the tactical mish-mash set before them.

Which of us can say, with any degree of certainty, what England are trying to achieve with ball in hand?

They dominated possession against Scotland but could not find a way past a determined defence and had 47 per cent in France - sufficient with which to achieve something. Yet on both occasions they has as much impact as insects on a windscreen.

Robinson has to get back to basics. I don't particularly like the ten-man game of the previous generation but Worcester proved last season what can be accomplished by a group of players who are clear in their gameplan and have faith in each other to deliver it.

Only then, when teams like Scotland and Samoa are summarily dismissed, should they look to open up.

The other option, of course, is to change selection drastically and just go for it. To do that they need a more mobile front five, some pace in the back row, a scrum-half who can take some of the creative pressure off Hodgson, two centres who can see further than the end of their noses and a back three who have more of the Jason Robinson to their game than the Mrs Robinson.

That's quite a big ask and I'm not sure the current coaching staff have the nous to pull it off. As things stand, the next World Cup is going to be as memorable as the last but not for the right reasons.