After 10 days of pure misery, England have the chance to give their fans something cheer about tonight.
When Geoff Hurst so unhelpfully placed England in the daunting Group D at last December’s draw in the opulent holiday resort of Costa do Sauipe, little attention was paid to the final match against Costa Rica.
It was hoped that this match in Belo Horizonte would be a gimme for England - a pushover against a Central American nation ranked below Scotland by FIFA.
This match was seen as the chance for England to seal the deal - to progress in style, most likely with a comfortable win.
But, when England step out onto the turf at the Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday afternoon, they will be playing for nothing but pride.
It is Costa Rica who have already qualified from the group. England, after successive defeats, are out. And they will only gain a minor flicker of happiness if they manage to finally deliver their suffering fans a win.
“We’re very conscious that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but they are still supporting us,” England manager Roy Hodgson said.
“We had sympathy and kind words from the fans who saw us at the hotel, and we want to make certain they see something against Costa Rica that they can take some encouragement from.”
Hodgson took the unusual step of naming his starting XI on the eve of the match.
There will be nine alterations in total. The most significant changes come in midfield where Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere will start their first World Cup games.
Luke Shaw will become the youngest player to have started at this World Cup as Leighton Baines is out with a hamstring injury.
Ben Foster, James Milner, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Frank Lampard and Adam Lallana also come into the XI.
Hodgson says he is not treating the World Cup with contempt by making so many changes. He is desperate to win the match.
“It’s a top-ranked international on the biggest stage, so anything else than taking the game very seriously and trying to win the game in its own right would be out of the question,” Hodgson added.
Hodgson admitted leading England to their fastest World Cup exit in history was a chastening experience.
“I’ve realised that, at this top level in a World Cup, it’s unforgiving,” the England manager said.
“A moment really of sheer misfortune can throw everyone into a realm of despair that you didn’t know was possible.
“It’s been a very tough few days and it’s hard to pick yourselves up for a game that, even if you do well in, serves no purpose.”
Lampard will lead the side out in Belo Horizonte, but his 106th cap may not be his last.
Hodgson added: “A quality player like him is always good to have available if needed.
“I haven’t had that conversation with him as such. But I’m pretty sure that, if we said to him look the chances are you might not feature quite so much but please don’t retire, please be available, I’m sure he’d say we could count on him. He loves playing for England.”