Denmark 4 England 1
England received a cold dose of reality at the start of a World Cup season as they were torn apart by Denmark in the heaviest defeat of Sven-Goran Eriksson's 54 matches in charge.
It normally takes rather longer than this for optimism about England's chances of glory to become muffled but only four days after the start of the Premiership campaign Eriksson's side were given a startling wake-up call.
After all the overblown statements of intent for next summer's World Cup finals, it is one which they must heed - and quickly - with tricky World Cup qualifiers away to Wales and Northern Ireland next month.
Eriksson will at least be able to point to the fact that Denmark's four second-half goals - three in six minutes - came after he had made three changes at the back, though Birmingham City's Matthew Upson was not, luckily for him, one of them.
The error-prone David James had replaced Paul Robinson in goal and the Manchester City goalkeeper was badly at fault for the first goal, scored by Dennis Rommedahl on 60 minutes.
He hardly covered himself in glory for the second, scored by Jon Dahl Tomasson three minutes later, while England were again undone at the back when Denmark led 3-0 ahead through substitute Michael Gravgaard ' s deflected header.
Indeed, with Denmark scoring a fourth late on, James' international career must be in doubt, with the case growing for Robert Green or Chris Kirkland, of West Bromwich Albion, to take over as Robinson's backup. Johnson's defensive flaws were also exposed.
England's one hope, apart from the fact that this match was 'only' a friendly, is Rooney, who battled tirelessly throughout to give his side some much-needed inspiration and scored with three minutes left.
However, there were worrying signs on England's left flank where Joe Cole looked lost, although Steven Gerrard's normally omnipresent displays for Liverpool are restricted by his deeper role for his country.
No wonder Alan Smith chose to play for Manchester United's reserves on Monday night. He had rather more foresight than those who spent the build-up to this match stressing England's strong chances of World Cup glory.
It all started so quietly. David Beckham rifled a 20-yard effort just wide but it was not until the half-hour that Thomas Sorensen was forced to produce an acrobatic save to deny Jermain Defoe's fierce volley.
The Spurs striker, who will start instead of the suspended Michael Owen against Wales, was otherwise a peripheral figure. Not that you could ever accuse Rooney of that.
Having pushed Per Nielsen away angrily after one accidental collision before fouling Daniel Agger, he started arguing with the assistant referee early on and was still disagreeing with the officials at half time, being shepherded aside by Beckham.
Along with the fiery temper, however, is a talent of rare quality.
Having seen one 'goal' ruled out for another foul on
Agger, Rooney chased a seemingly lost cause but rescued the ball on the byline before teeing up Lampard for an effort which was blocked.
It was just as well that Rooney injected some life into England for there was precious little else to quicken the pulse at this stage.
Robinson, who had saved efforts from Thomas Gravesen and Claus Jensen in the first half, was substituted at half time in a prearranged deal with Spurs manager Martin Jol.
Jamie Carragher came on for John Terry, Johnson for Gary Neville and Owen for Defoe. Those who went off were the lucky ones.
Birmingahm City's Matthew Upson was also fortunate not to be in action when the roof fell in.
While James lost his regular place to Robinson after his mistake in Austria effectively cost England two qualifying points, it was only another 15 minutes before he blundered again here.
He came charging out of his area as Tomasson chased on to a long through-ball even though Ashley Cole was in hot pursuit. When the fullback's tackle failed to stop the striker, James was out of position for the cross which allowed Rommedahl to sidefoot into an empty net.
Cole and James were just as unsteady three minutes later when Denmark scored again. Johnson failed to stop Claus Jensen cutting back a cross. Cole half-cleared the ball but it was headed back by Rommedahl for Tomasson to prod home.
Worse followed. Carragher was beaten to a corner by substitute Gravgaard whose header was deflected off Gerrard into the net. England were badly ruffled but Rooney scampered on to Beckham's through- ball and beat Sorensen to score in the 87th minute.
Substitute Soren Larsen held off Rio Ferdinand's challenge to prod the ball past James in the last minute.