Former England coach Dick Best believes the grey cloud that has settled over the national team for the last 18 months is set to be blown away this season as the warhorses return to action.
England have lost nine of their last 16 Tests and in less than two years they have slipped from top of the world to sixth, behind New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France and Wales.
Coach Andy Robinson has injected some youth into his squad - supplemented by yesterday's training squad call-up for uncapped Leicester lock Louis Deacon as injury cover ahead of the more experienced options Ben Kay and Steve Borthwick.
And the England coach is now waiting on key big-name stars to return firing on all cylinders.
Jonny Wilkinson will probably not make the autumn internationals after having an appendix out but he should be fit for the RBS Six Nations next year.
Lawrence Dallaglio returns to action for Wasps on Friday after recovering from a fractured ankle and is considering coming out of international retirement.
And with Mike Tindall and Phil Vickery both fit and back in the red rose fold, Best is confident the future for England is brighter than many expect.
"The way the England team is shaping up, if they can pick all the players who I would call automatic selections - Mark Van Gisbergen, Mark Cueto, Josh Lewsey on the wing, Mike Tindall, Jonny Wilkinson - they will be fairly formidable," said Best.
"England had a record number of injuries last year and had to use second and third columnists to fill the gaps. That's when it went a bit shaky."
It is nearly two years since Wilkinson last donned an England jersey but Best has cautioned against Robinson rushing him back.
Wilkinson was not on top form after being fast-tracked into the Lions squad following knee ligament damage and Best concurs with his Newcastle boss Rob Andrew that a patient approach will allow England's World Cup winner the best chance of matching his previous heights. If that means not considering Wilkinson until the Six Nations, so be it.
"I would like to see Jonny put six to eight weeks of rugby under his belt, get back in the groove, back to full fitness, put behind him the niggling injuries, silence a few critics, enjoy his rugby again and if required get back into the England team for the Six Nations," said Best.
But even then Best thinks Wilkinson will have a fight on his hands to take the No 10 jersey from Charlie Hodgson, a more natural playmaker who will help set Robinson's dynamic new gameplan in motion.
Dallaglio retired from England duty in September 2004 but Best believes his return to the England squad "can't come soon enough".
Dallaglio broke his ankle in the first game of the Lions tour and has admitted since then his desire to play international rugby still burns fiercely.
Best said: "It might be little late for the autumn internationals but hopefully if he makes himself available it would be big lift for England. There has be a lot of disappointment over the years, in results and players leaving the fold.
"To have one of the old war-horses return would be a real positive. He is a leader on the field and you can't have enough of them.
"For teams to go forward you need experience and I feel fairly sure that if he plays rugby for a month he can expect a call from Andy Robinson."
Deacon was called into the England squad as Simon Shaw and Tom Palmer continue to battle injuries. Deacon, who turns 25 later this week, was a member of the England A side that won the Churchill Cup last summer.
Palmer, the Leeds lock, suffered an abdominal muscle strain in training last week and Wasps second row Shaw is struggling with a back injury.
* Stephen Jones faces a race against time to be fit for Wales' clash with New Zealand after badly twisting his left ankle.
The Welsh fly-half suffered a double twist playing for his French club side Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.
An MRI scan indicated Jones had not broken anything, but medical advice suggests he will need four weeks to recover - and Wales take on the All Blacks in just 33 days' time.
* Scotland head coach Frank Hadden saw his first training session in charge of the team disrupted by a number of injuries.
The former Edinburgh Gunners chief was without back-row forwards Scott Gray (thigh), Andrew Wilson (calf) and Andy Miller (leg) as he began preparations for the autumn Tests.
Leeds Tykes pair, prop Gavin Kerr (thigh) and standoff Gordon Ross, who is recovering from his exertions in Sunday's Powergen Cup defeat by Llanelli Scarlets, also had to sit out the session.