If you thought the Olympics was little more than a glorified version of Le Tournoi, consult the bruised shins of Craig Bellamy and Joe Allen for evidence to the contrary.
None of the signs pointed to it, but last night's Great Britain versus Senegal match actually provided a compelling spectacle, even if the performance and result confirmed that Britain simply aren't that good.
Old Trafford had been neutered for the occasion - the venue adorned with hot pink Olympic logos, with any sign of non-official sponsors taped over in comically officious fashion.
Where the Theatre of Dreams usually reverberates to the sound of middle-aged men swearing, last night's demographic skewed younger, politer, and generally confused as to what it ought to be chanting.
Despite the strange atmosphere, a genuine football match broke out. Britain had plenty of complaints about the thunderous Senegalese tackling, but frankly Early Doors enjoyed it - not having been on the end of a Saliou Ciss reducer.
It was pleasingly old school, like watching Cameroon 1990 reincarnate.
Britain aren't going to win anyway, so they might as well be involved in some interesting matches.
Of course, the football was of secondary importance to the Daily Mail, which led its match report in wearyingly familiar fashion.
"Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy refused to sing the National Anthem as Great Britain opened their Olympic campaign with a disappointing draw against Senegal.
"Team GB captain Giggs and his fellow Welshmen Bellamy, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor remained tight-lipped during the rendition of God Save The Queen at Old Trafford."
Seriously? Evidence of a correlation between singing on TV and sporting achievement is thin at best.
Look! Here's a picture of Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson not singing God Save The Queen during the medal ceremony at the last Olympics. And they're smiling! How inappropriate is that?
So, let Early Doors spell it out one last time:
1-Singing the national anthem is, and always has been, optional.
2-Singing the national anthem is not a barometer of how much you love your country.
3-How much you love your country is not a barometer of how good you are at sport.
4-One of the things that makes Britain semi-decent is the element of personal freedom. Countries that force people to sing national anthems? Not so free.
5-Olympic athletes are sportsmen, not singers. Their focus should be on performance, not fake displays of patriotism for the benefit of the press.
6-In football terms, God Save The Queen is the English anthem, Land Of Our Fathers is the Welsh one. ED can understand Welsh players not singing the anthem associated with England. Not because they hate the Queen, but because it would feel a bit weird.
7-There was no show of disrespect. The players stood to attention, and didn't in any way muck about.
8-Hardly anyone was offended by the non-sing, and those that were should have their opinions instantly disregarded as moronic.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Senegal coach Aliou Cisse takes the Arsene Wenger approach to his team's physical play: "I can't say that I saw a bad tackle on the pitch. All is saw was my players trying to win the ball the right the way. There were no incorrect tackles at all. I know these boys very well and they would never try and harm anyone. In Senegal we never teach them to act in a malicious way. I'm actually surprised considering it's Britain talking about physicality and fighting spirit, not Senegal."
FOREIGN VIEW: The Miracle of Glasgow - That's what the Japanese press are calling their 1-0 win over Spain at Hampden Park.
COMING UP: Erm, it's the Olympics today. And for some days in the coming weeks. We're live until August 12, right here.
- Sports & Recreation
- Craig Bellamy
- Old Trafford