Wayne Rooney’s man of the match performance for Manchester United against Newcastle may have offered a tantalising glimpse of where his future lies at international level.
Playing as part of a central-midfield twosome in a 3-1-4-2, Rooney bossed affairs, scoring twice and setting up Robin van Persie with a silver-platter header for the Red Devils’ third.
Not only that but he played 16 passes more than Michael Carrick, usually the United water carrier, at a sterling success rate of 90.2 per cent.
For those still minded to consider the fate of the England team, seeing the club and country skipper so at home with the conductors’ baton in such a setup will have hinted at exciting possibilities.
Firstly it would remove Rooney from the debate surrounding which of a promising generation of young domestic strikers to leave out at his expense.
Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck might play together as two number nines, as Van Persie and Falcao did for Louis van Gaal, while Raheem Sterling could come in to add guile alongside either man.
Meanwhile, the likes of Harry Kane and Saido Berahino would be one step closer to international minutes.
The absence of a traditional midfield-spoiler anywhere within 100 miles of the England setup could also cease to be such a pressing concern, with none present in the United squad that dominated Newcastle.
Rooney’s main ally in the middle of the park was the far-from-combative Juan Mata, while behind him Michael Carrick took care of the transition from defence to attack in a role Jack Wilshere may yet develop the discipline to carry out.
Adam Lallana could then be brought in to play the role of the Spaniard alongside the Liverpudlian for his nation.
Van Gaal’s use of wing-backs too would arguably get more out of the majority of the Three Lions wide defenders.
Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines and Kyle Walker in particular are far more convincing when going forward, while Ashley Young’s increasing potency in the position offers Hodgson an interesting alternative.
The England outlook at centre-half may be more muddy, but with a Euro 2016 qualifying already a string of glorified friendlies the time for indoctrinating John Stones, Calum Chambers is now, with the Croydon tactician able to call upon Phil Jones and Chris Smalling as teaching assistants.
United are 13/10 to sink Tottenham Hotspur in their second post-Christmas outing on Sunday.