Fabio Capello has said that he would stand proud for England even if his team faced has native Italy in the FIFA World Cup™ final.
On the evidence of last night's performance against Mexico, there are still a few teething problems for Capello to address before his dream scenario can come true.
However, should his adopted national team come face-to-face with the Azzurri at Soccer City on 11 July, there is not a moment's hesitation about what Capello would want the outcome to be.
"I hope to play against Italy in the final or the semi-final but at that moment my shirt would be an England shirt," he said. "I would not swap my position with (Italy boss) Marcello Lippi. I prefer to be England manager."
It might not have seemed that way during the first half of England's 3-1 win over Mexico. The four Chelsea players who sat out the contest must have reflected what a good 45 minutes it had been to miss, given England's inability to stem the flow of speedy Mexicans flying through midfield and attacking an unprotected defence.
Capello rarely wastes an opportunity to emphasise how impressed he is with James Milner. On this occasion, the Aston Villa man struggled. And Milner was not alone, given central midfield partner Michael Carrick failed to exert any kind of influence on proceedings.
It was not until Steven Gerrard was switched from his left-sided station at the break that some coherence was evident in England's play. Better now than in three weeks though, according to Capello.
I would not swap my position with (Italy boss) Marcello Lippi. I prefer to be England manager
"I am not worried about that performance. It is important to make the mistakes now," he said. "We have time to work on these mistakes and other things that we have to do to be better, to ensure we play like I know this team can play because we have really good players. We need to recover the spirit of what we did in qualification."
That run of nine wins from 10 games forms the basis of optimism England fans insisted would not exist in the wake of the awful failure to reach Euro 2008. Capello is responsible for the change in attitude. Yet he must realise some of the back-up for what is regarded as his first-choice line-up is limited.
Gerrard's presence in central midfield merely showed how desperate England are for Gareth Barry to be fit and therefore avoid a return to that age-old question of whether the Liverpool skipper and Lampard can operate effectively in the same central midfield area.
"Gerrard can play in the centre and he can play on the left," reflected Capello. "He is an excellent player and I am really happy with his performance. But we have other players who can play in the same position, so we will see."
Robert Green was also singled out for special praise following two excellent saves. The West Ham goalkeeper has now started eight of England's last 10 matches and as the absent Ben Foster was involved in the other two, it does point to Green being handed the goalkeeping jersey for that crucial Group C opener against the United States in Rustenburg on 12 June.
Ledley King might only start if Barry's ankle injury has ruled him out - either of the match or the tournament - as the Tottenham captain is being thought of as a midfield holding player now Owen Hargreaves has been ruled out and Paul Scholes rejected a request to come out of international retirement.
However, although there were shaky aspects to King's first England appearance for three years, Capello appeared to confirm the 29-year-old's presence in South Africa by ruling him out of Sunday's final friendly against Japan in Graz but pencilling him in for an outing against the local PSL team Platinum Stars in Rustenburg on either 6 or 7 June .
"King is an important player and he is a good player," said Capello. "I decided before the game King would play for the full 90 minutes against Mexico. Now he can train for the rest of the period we stay in Austria. We have another match on 6 or 7 June when we get to South Africa and he can play then."