There was a serious air about proceedings at Twickenham as England went through their paces ahead of what is shaping up to be a tipping-point fixture for Stuart Lancaster's side.
There is perhaps less expectation of victory against South Africa, whom England have not beaten for six years, but there is a pressing need for an uplift today after the dispiriting defeat last weekend.
"I do think we might need someone to light a cracker up our a**e, say something, bang heads on walls, anything, maybe even just one word," said Toby Flood. "This is a huge Test for us."
As it was in Port Elizabeth five months ago. At that point England had suffered defeats in the opening two Tests. An hour before kick-off, the England squad were brought together by the coaching staff and told their fortune. It did the trick, England playing with suitable vigour to draw 14-14. What made the difference?
"That was our last chance that season to put things right," forwards coach Graham Rowntree said. "There was a real shift in attitude, a pure desire not to be defeated. That's a feeling that we have to recreate. We're hurting. That was a game we should have won last week. We're out to rectify things."
England have made six changes, partly a strident reaction to defeat and partly a response to the opposition in front of them. They have double-banked at the rear of the field, putting a full-back, Mike Brown, on the left wing to deal with the astute and remorseless box-kicking game of Springboks scrum-half Ruan Pienaar.
That is a defensive ploy. You can bet then that England will take every potential kick at goal.
Alex Corbisiero's return to loosehead ought to shore up an England scrum that was slipshod last week. There is no margin for error against South Africa. Tom Wood is a no-holds-barred type of player. England need plenty of that, especially at the breakdown.
The game will be tight. The Springboks are not that pleasing on the eye but they deliver on the scoreboard.
England's potency is also limited, with a one-dimensional midfield. Flood has to draw the best from them, as well as from his own boot. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
England – A Goode; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, M Brown; T Flood, B Youngs; B Morgan, C Robshaw (capt), T Wood; G Parling, J Launchbury; D Cole, T Youngs, A Corbisiero. Reps: D Paice, D Wilson, M Vunipola, M Botha, J Haskell, D Care, O Farrell, J Joseph.
South Africa – Z Kirchner; J P Pietersen, J de Jongh, J de Villiers (capt), F Hougaard; P Lambie, R Pienaar; G Steenkamp, A Strauss, J du Plessis; E Etzebeth, J Kruger; F Louw, W Alberts, D Vermuelen. Reps: S Brits, H van der Merwe, P Cilliers, F van der Merwe, M Coetzee, E Jantjies, J Taute, L Mvovo.
England v South Africa
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