Nobody truly believes England have a snowball's chance in Rio of winning the World Cup.
But if you're looking for a tangible reason as to why Roy Hodgson and his troops will merely be making up the numbers in Brazil, look no further than the omission of Ashley Cole.
That's not to say Cole would have been key to going all the way - after all, the veteran has plenty of WC experience and all of that was as an also-ran.
It was more the general reaction to the fact Hodgson has opted for teenage star Luke Shaw over the 33-year-old:
Personally would have taken Cole. Shaw the future but ready to be 2nd choice for Eng? Cole a controversial character but consistent player.
— James Olley (@JamesOlley) May 11, 2014
Luke Shaw instead of Ashley Cole is a joke. — ♠️♥️♣️♦️ (@G_Baughan17) May 11, 2014
No Ashely Cole? Absolute joke - he has to be at least a sub. Can 18 year old shaw deal with the pressure?
— Jack Honeywell (@jackhoneywell) May 11, 2014
Leighton Baines no champions league experience! Luke Shaw one good season! Ashley Cole. Premier league, champions league, the lot! Joke!!! — Johnny F (@JF_LUFCmod) May 11, 2014
Indeed, how could Roy be so daft as to opt for an unproven international over such a world-class left-back who has been there before and seen it all?
And that is precisely England's problem. Had he gone for Cole over Shaw, would the country be happy that he is taking this world-class experience to South America?
I suspect we would instead be hearing feedback along the lines of "pathetic old boys' club" and "it's a case of who you are, not if you've earned it".
The nation would then lash out at the elder statesmen of the squad when they inevitably fail to make an impact at the tournament, calling for the incoming injection of new blood to give us hope for Euro 2016 in France.
And then we'll take a gigantic dump all over them, too.
People have been saying for ages to move on from the 'old guard', now mass complaints about Shaw over Cole. Make your minds up.
— Rich Laverty (@JournoRich) May 12, 2014
There was a time when England would be lucky to have just one left-back of Cole's, Baines' or Shaw's standard available for a major tournament. A time not too long ago, either. Surely having such options is a great thing, even if someone has to make way?
Worse, if the Luke Shaws and Adam Lallanas opt to leave Southampton between now and the Euros, we will condemn them for taking the money of a big-name club and label them as a new version of the ill-fated 'golden generation', who in our eyes collectively shrugged their shoulders at every major tourney exit before going back to counting their money.
And heaven forbid if any of England's latest batch of senior stars are caught out having a social life in the interim!
Our reaction as a footballing nation to these squad announcements says a lot about the general mood infecting everything to do with the international side.
Self-loathing and self-harm are fashionable; to be caught offering our representatives unconditional support is considered to be along the same lines of being caught looking at porn on your work computer.
It's not something many England fans care about until these events begin, but consider the squad culling process for Spain. Every time they name a 23-man cut, perhaps just as many excellent players miss out. They have that much talent at their disposal.
And yet, do the country's fanbase and media unite to pick as many holes as they can in the final decision? Are they looking for any and every reason to undermine the process?
Or, do they smile with pride at just how spoiled they are in this current era, before cheering their men on to three straight major accolades?
The composition of any given Spain squad is a true test of your typical 'club over country' fan. Real Madrid and Barcelona combined; city dwellers mixed with men who would rather see their native region one day earn independence and their own national team.
And yet how many Spanish fans have you seen hoping a player representing a rival of their favourite club is the one who cocks it up for everyone?
On several occasions when England have dismally underachieved, fans and media alike have wondered aloud: 'Did they even want to do well?'
It's a fair point to raise. But even if it's true, it only means the players finally have something in common with those fans and media.
Those last remaining football fans who truly live up to the term 'England supporter' are often unfairly taunted by the jaded majority and accused of 'living in 1966'.
But with our national footballing identity growing more cynical and destructive with each passing week, I say they cannot build a working time machine soon enough.
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter @liamhappe
- Sports & Recreation
- Ashley Cole
- Luke Shaw
- Roy Hodgson