England captain Phil Vickery has called for "level heads" when the World Cup finalists analyse an alarming Twickenham capitulation to Wales that left their RBS 6 Nations title bid in ruins.
Vickery and company face a month on the road – away days in Rome, Paris and Edinburgh – suggesting that RBS 6 Nations silverware could once again prove beyond them.
Barely three months after reaching a second successive World Cup final, yet another RBS Nations campaign could be about to stall on the starting grid.
England’s RBS 6 Nations success-rate stands at less than 50% in the aftermath of a scintillating 2003 Grand Slam season, and Wales simply compounded their misery by ending 20 years of hurt at Twickenham.
Not since 1988 - the days of Jonathan Davies, Mark Ring and Adrian Hadley - had Wales prevailed on English rugby’s hallowed turf.
Even though England had lost openside flanker Lewis Moody, his replacement Tom Rees and wing David Strettle – and were about to lose centre Mike Tindall – in a succession of savage injury setbacks, the ensuing surrender still took some believing.
Vickery admitted: “We saw some of the best – and the worst – of England.”
“The harsh realities of international rugby are if you make mistakes you are going to be punished, and Wales certainly punished us in that second half.
“We have to be critical of ourselves and take the flak that will come our way. To blame it on individuals is a bit harsh. We have to take it as a collective. We are a pretty honest bunch, and we have to move on.
“It’s easy to blame individuals, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Is the team functioning correctly to give that individual the right opportunity to do his job?
“Credit to Wales. They stuck to their guns, rose to the challenge and ultimately didn’t have to do a great deal to win the game.
“The mistakes came from us, and they kept their discipline and shape to come away with the win.
“It doesn’t matter if you have got one cap or 50 caps, when you are out on the field you have to perform.
“We are all responsible. We have to look at ourselves as a team and keep level heads.”