For the first time, England are heading into a major international tournament without the tub-thumping, trumpet-blowing euphoria that traditionally travels with them and it is rather refreshing.
Also it must be noted that, as favourites, England always crack under pressure. But, as underdogs, they have a strange habit of succeeding.
Battered by scandal in 1996, they powered through to the semi-finals, bowing out only after a penalty shoot-out. In 1990, manager Bobby Robson was a media-hate figure, but he returned a hero having powered through to the semi-finals, bowing out only after a penalty shoot-out.
Hmmm… there’s a pattern here... a pattern that might bode well for England this time round.
More in The New Paper on Thursday (May 07).