Fabio Capello showed his ruthless streak in Rustenburg last night - now England's coach must decide whether to take the ultimate action and dump his goalkeeper after just one game.
The Italian took an age before deciding Robert Green was worthy of starting the Group C opener against USA last night. Presumably the intention was to stick with the West Ham United No1 for the remainder of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Capello could not imagine his trust would be rewarded with a blunder the like of which has rarely been seen on the biggest stage. Plenty of England keepers have been in the stocks before and David Seaman, Paul Robinson and Scott Carson would all have watched last night's game with the knowledge of someone who has been there and suffered.
In the second half last night he played very well. But a mistake remains a mistake. Now I have to speak with him, then I will decide what to do.
This time though, it falls on Capello to decide whether to hand Green a second chance, or drag him out of his side and complete the most fundamental U-turn by picking David James or Joe Hart instead to face Algeria in Cape Town on Friday. Considering he only informed Green he was playing two hours before kick-off yesterday, the 63-year-old is unlikely to reveal his hand anytime soon.
And Capello's initial response was typically non-committal. "Goalkeepers make mistakes. This is part of football," he said. "You have to accept that, just the same as you do with a referee or a striker.
"I decided on Green because he played very well in the last game against Platinum Stars and also against Mexico at Wembley, and in the second half last night he played very well and made a really important save. But a mistake remains a mistake. Now I have to speak with him, then I will decide what to do."
If he feels decisive action is required, Capello will not be scared to take it, a fact he proved last night by replacing James Milner after barely half an hour. That move itself must have been a chastening experience for the Italian considering he has spent this season championing the Aston Villa man's versatility.
He was not up to keeping Steve Cherundolo quiet though, or subduing Landon Donovan down an American right flank which was able to attack at will. Under the circumstances, the departure of Milner so soon was inevitable. The surprise came in the arrival of Shaun Wright-Phillips as his replacement, rather than the scheming talents of Joe Cole.
When Capello decided Theo Walcott was surplus to requirements, there was an argument Adam Johnson's natural ability to play on both wings should have been a telling factor in who filled the vacancy. That debate will now be reignited but the preference for Wright-Phillips ahead of Joe Cole, who must have thought he would start after completing the full 90 minutes against the Platinum Stars last Monday, was totally mystifying.
The return of Gareth Barry for England's second outing should at least solve that problem as goalscorer Steven Gerrard is now expected to fill the left-sided slot which was so productive during qualifying. Another issue surrounds the replacement in central defence for Ledley King, who has already been ruled out of the Algeria encounter with a groin injury.
Overall I am very happy with the performance of the team. Only the result was not good. I think in the next game will be better.
The England coach turned to Jamie Carragher last night, but the Liverpool veteran looked distinctly uncomfortable and was booked, meaning he is just one more away from an automatic ban. His only other options are Tottenham Hotspur's uncapped Michael Dawson and Matthew Upson, who has started nine times for Capello, including the hammering of Croatia at Wembley and the defeat of Germany in Berlin.
Capello is unlikely to let the external naval-gazing distract him from a path he has given the impression was certain to lead to a place in the latter stages. In truth, it probably still will. And, for all the issues last night's disappointment raised, the Italian still saw enough to make him feel quite confident of progress.
"I saw the spirit of England and the spirit of the team," he said. "I saw that they fought every time to win back the ball. Also I am not worried about the physical condition of the players because we ran a lot.
"Overall I am very happy with the performance of the team. Only the result was not good. But we are in a good moment and I think in the next game will be better."