Matt Stevens insists England can still feature prominently in this season's RBS 6 Nations title shake-up despite their stuttering start to the tournament.
The World Cup finalists flew home from Rome on Monday after completing a distinctly unimpressive Italian job.
For the second successive Six Nations game, England appeared hell-bent on clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Their second-half implosion against Wales nine days ago when they blew a 13-point lead and lost 26-19 was almost mirrored by events at Stadio Flaminio.
This time, a 20-6 interval advantage virtually disappeared against a country who had never beaten England in 13 previous attempts.
Stevens and company held on to triumph 23-19, but as in the Wales encounter, England only scored three second-half points.
Next up are Six Nations favourites France in Paris, whose victories over Scotland and Ireland were delivered with a ruthless streak so lacking from England’s armoury at the moment.
But Bath prop Stevens said: “I believe we can still win this Six Nations.
“If we go to Paris and Edinburgh and win there as well, we then finish at home against Ireland, and it could still turn out to be a championship where nobody gets a Grand Slam.
“We are a new team, and a team forced to make a lot of changes through injury. Winning in Rome is no longer anything like a gimme.
“We made some mistakes again under pressure, and the second half could have been better. But we’ve won away from home and we can build on this.”
Head coach Brian Ashton has 12 days to formulate battle-plans for Stade de France, scene of England’s World Cup semi-final victory over the tournament hosts last autumn.
France, rejuvenated under new coach Marc Lievremont, will be thirsting for revenge, while England have only beaten Les Bleus once in Six Nations history on their own turf, a 15-9 triumph eight years ago.
Ashton’s first task must be to filter through the catalogue of injuries and illness that affected his selection options for Rome.
Centre Mike Tindall and flanker Tom Rees are certain to miss England’s remaining Six Nations fixtures, while wing David Strettle has little chance of being involved as he recovers from a second serious foot injury this season.
Props Andrew Sheridan (infection) and Phil Vickery (stomach bug) should both be available though, and England desperately need flanker Lewis Moody to recover from an Achilles tendon injury that saw him miss the Italy clash.
Ashton though, can only play a waiting game, especially with a full round of Guinness Premiership games scheduled for next weekend and the potential of further injury disruption.
He will also need to decide on the captaincy.
Bath lock Steve Borthwick led England in Rome following Vickery’s late withdrawal, and with Stevens performing impressively at tighthead, Vickery could struggle to gain an immediate recall.