Fabio Capello will learn England's Euro 2012 fate on Friday admitting his charges face a stiffer challenge next summer than they did at the World Cup.
In what Capello has confirmed will be his final tournament as England coach, there is a clear worst-case scenario - it pits the Three Lions against one of last years' finalists in South Africa, Spain or Holland, plus Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and a resurgent French outfit, who won at Wembley just over 12 months ago.
Quite obviously, it would be a draw substantially harder than a pairing with the United States, Algeria and Slovenia which proved so troublesome in South Africa, leading Capello to his firm conclusion; the Euros are tougher than the World Cup. Capello said: "Absolutely. This time it will be stronger."
He added: "It will be stronger because if you look at the groups and all the teams, particularly the three European teams who reached the World Cup semi-finals; the technical level is at the top, the organisation of the teams is at the top.
"Also some teams who didn't play well at the World Cup will now be back at the top. Portugal, France and Italy will be better. It will be a really tough tournament."
The FA's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking may have caused a stir by refusing to rule out the possibility of Capello remaining in post beyond the end of his £6million-a-year contract next summer. However, the 65-year-old Italian's mind is made up. Once England's Euro 2012 campaign is over, so is his time in the job.
"As an England manager, this is it for me," he said.
Yet Giovanni Trapattoni, who is 72, has already agreed a two-year extension to remain as Republic of Ireland chief, so the issue is not quite as ludicrous as it appears.
Capello has no intention of following suit. Neither, really, does he want to be in the adjoining dug-out to his illustrious compatriot.
"I hope not," he said. "The countries are close and also it would be two Italian managers, so I prefer not to be drawn with them. We cannot draw Italy as we are in the same pot, but this would be the same for me to face another Italian manager."