France defence coach Dave Ellis believes England are suffering from leadership problems and a lack of confidence as the world champions' RBS 6 Nations campaign hurtles towards oblivion.
Defeat against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Sunday week would condemn England to their worst season in Six Nations history.
Yorkshireman Ellis, who is also a member of Gloucester's coaching staff, revealed Les Bleus had closely monitored Charlie Hodgson's display during the autumn defeat against Australia as they prepared for their Twickenham mission.
"I think Charlie Hodgson lacks a bit of confidence," said Ellis.
"That was quite evident in the game against Australia last November, and England had the opportunities against us with the drop-goal attempt and penalties to win the game.
"I know all about Hodgson, (Olly) Barkley and Jamie Noon from the Zurich Premiership, and once a player (Hodgson) is put under pressure like Australia did, then there is always the possibility he could do the same again.
"We worked on the back row trying to close him down, and we knew that when he delivers the ball, even when he is close to the defensive line, he always goes back, he never goes into contact, which Jonny Wilkinson would do.
"In terms of England you only have to look at the men who aren't there any more, people like Martin Johnson, who was an immense leader, Lawrence Dallaglio and people like that.
"Wilkinson is not in the same category as a leader, but he gives England so much confidence when he is on the field.
"I don't think they have got the personnel there to carry that banner along at the moment.
When Matt Dawson came on, he had a little bit of an influence in changing the game, but the substitution probably came too late."
England coach Andy Robinson pointed to France's lack of creativity after they toppled his team through six Dimitri Yachvili penalties.
But Ellis responded: "It doesn't make any difference whether you play with ambition or not.
"You have got to play it as you see it. England are very good opposition, and you have to be careful on how many risks you take."
After Ireland's heroic big-game hunt of the Springboks and Scotland's six-try runaround of the Pumas, the challenge of engineering the most spectacular win of the autumn series now falls on Wales, writes Peter Jackson.