The following comments came after England's laboured victory over Ecuador. Feel free to restrain your incredulity.
"He was fantastic today" - John Terry on David Beckham.
"He's a great player" - Ashley Cole on Michael Carrick.
"He had a magnificent game" - Carrick on Aaron Lennon's six-minute contribution.
"In the four games so far, we have played better and better" - Sven-Goran Eriksson.
"I'm sure he can lead us all the way" - Steven Gerrard on Wayne Rooney.
Just what planet are this lot on? Has there ever been a more self-regarding bunch of England footballers?
We have got used to their wives and girlfriends making fools of themselves in Baden-Baden, living out the fantasies of tabloid society, displaying the sheer vacuity of the mini-celebrity culture, but don't their men possess the realism that is vital for success in international sport?
The England players and Eriksson will blame the media as a reflex action. So we have the precious Frank Lampard - more shots and more hopelessly wide efforts than anyone else so far in this World Cup - bleating about Alan Shearer wading in on BBC TV.
No-one needed to protect the lion-hearted Shearer when he or his team played badly and Lampard should know better.
World Cup winners such as Alan Ball and George Cohen have been trenchant in their criticism, backed up by Terry Butcher and Chris Waddle, who know what it's like to play in a World Cup semi-final.
So the current lot can't just shrug off their strictures, saying the media don't know what it's like to be in their position. These guys do and they're appalled at what they're seeing.
England look like being the poorest of those in the last eight. They were mediocre against Ecuador, ranked 39th in the world, whose most illustrious player can't even get in Aston Villa's first team. England's goal came because the Ecuador goalkeeper is a comparative midget whose reach and reactions were inadequate.
It was Beckham's first goal for England from a set-piece for three years and that is now his only contribution on the field. The rest of the time, he is peripheral. The decline has been obvious since the 2002 World Cup, yet he has been indulged remarkably.
As for Eriksson's retrospective satisfaction, he didn't look too chuffed after an hour on Sunday, as Peter Crouch prepared to come on.
Who would have made way for him? Surely not Beckham. Rooney? Perish the thought. He was the only one to do himself justice, no matter what the spinmeisters will tell you.
Rooney's recovery, morale and selfless contribution to the cause have been remarkable, yet his reward is to play in an unfamiliar role as the target man up front, as Eriksson tinkered with the formation for the fourth time in 15 days.
It beggars belief that England are sleepwalking through a tournament that Eriksson has prepared for since taking over early in 2001.
They appear simply to be making up the numbers. The poverty of their play contrasts with the vibrant, athletic, skilful football played by Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Ghana, Australia and Germany at various stages. England so far haven't looked in the same class as them.
Played for 360-odd minutes in four games, looked worthwhile for 120 of them is the most cogent summary - the first half against Paraguay and Sweden and the last half-hour in the Ecuador game. For the rest of the time, they have been palsied, rudderless and ponderous, with no leadership on and off the park.
England remain in denial, convinced they're on course for immortality. Yet they fell for the rudimentary approach of Sweden and could easily have lost as the roof caved in.
If so, they'd have played Germany last Saturday in the second round and with Jurgen Klinsmann coaxing bold performances at last out of the Germans, would you have backed England?
And yet. England are prospering on paper, even though playing like strangers introduced to each other in the dressing-room. The mantra is chanted: "we're in the last eight and we're bound to get better."
The Germans would come out with that one, tournament after tournament. Yet they won trophies, time after time.
Eriksson is undeniably a lucky manager and there's nothing wrong with that. Even Michael Owen's sad departure saved him having to tackle a difficult decision.
There was no doubt that Owen had been a gamble, that he just wasn't fit enough and that Eriksson would have to consider dropping him. Would he have grasped that nettle?
Marco van Basten did by dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy from the Holland XI last Sunday and Luiz Felipe Scolari substituted Luis Figo three times in a row while taking Portugal to the Euro 2004 Final. That's what international management is about, not keeping your illustrious has-beens happy.
Eriksson's luck will probably hold this Saturday against a Portugal team weakened by suspensions and the probable absence through injury of Cristiano Ronaldo. So brace yourself for more self-deluding bombast from Team England while the media does its job honourably, holding its nose against the stench of mediocrity, trusting on the evidence of their own eyes.
The players, cossetted and dim-witted, don't seem to realise they have participated in some of the worst games so far in this World Cup. They have been exposed in a crucial area - the strikers - because of Eriksson's myopia and reckless squad selection.
There is still no coherent gameplan. Owen Hargreaves plays well in the holding role in midfield and his reward is to play full-back in the next game.
Steven Gerrard just roams around at will, trying to plug numerous holes in the dyke, while Frank Lampard peppers the photographers behind the goal, trying to be Roy of the Rovers.
England will be hoping they do what Greece did in 2004 at the European Championships. Play appallingly, give away few goals, stumble into the final and hope the opposition have an off-day, as Portugal did. Well, Brazil should snuff out that nonsense in the semi-finals.
There is no compulsion on the media to behave like fans with microphones and notebooks. Of course, they want England to win the World Cup, but they're not on-message to distort reality.
The fundamental message after a fortnight is that England have got this far despite Eriksson, rather than because of him.