More promising youngsters that you can shake a stick at? A side full of Europe's elite talents? Pundits talking your team up as potentially the best in the world? England fans, you know how this one ends, crying into your pint after watching five of the worst spot-kicks you'll ever see.
There are signs, however, that things could be different for Gareth Southgate's Golden Generation, a certain steeliness to the side, a willingness to try new things, the general sense that they would be able to give Algeria/Iceland/Uruguay a game.The hardest part for a young-ish boss of a young team? Finding some kind of balance in a team where certain positions are rather overcrowded (why do we have a billion number tens all of a sudden), and others somewhat short of staff (try playing Spot the Left-back with England's current squad).
Here's 90min's look at what Southgate's strongest XI might look like before the resceduled Euros...
1. Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Yeah, yeah, I know. It isn't exactly ideal, and there are two English goalkeepers in Nick Pope and Dean Henderson who are objectively in much better nick. But hear me out on this one...
It's true that by the extremely important metric of keeping the ball out of the net, Jordan Pickford is lagging behind his peers - where Henderson's save percentage of .752% is the third best in the league, Pickford's .634 is a distant 20th (all figures from FbRef).
But goalkeeping has changed a lot since Joe Hart was dropped for Claudio Bravo, and for Southgate to encourage England to play out the back as he clearly wishes to, Pickford is the clear choice. Pope and Henderson, playing at Burnley and Sheffield United respectively, are clearly accustomed to hitting the ball a long way - they are the top two goalkeepers in the league for the average length of their goal kicks.
Pickford, meanwhile, attempted 1,100 passes last season (the third most in the league), and England will have to grin and bear his unfortunate form if they want embrace Southgate's free-flowing revolution.
2. Right-Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
There's not as much of a debate here - Walker might be more accustomed to intricate and patient build up play, but Alexander-Arnold has shown that he can both play through the heavy pressure of modern football (only four more players completed more than his 2,254 passes last season) and provide an undeniable cutting edge in attack.
Walker is perhaps one of the best defensive full-backs in the world, but Trent's attacking output is almost unprecedented for a player in his position. His Man of the Match performance against Leicester on Boxing Day saw him swing every sort of cross in the book into the box, and though England haven't seen the best of him, his threat in advanced positions could well end up being the difference for them.
3. Centre-Back: Harry Maguire
It's been an interesting summer for Harry Maguire, and he's been forthright about his disappointment that his legal issues have caused him to miss out on this round of international fixtures.
However, Southgate has been publicly supportive of one of the stalwarts of England's 2018 World Cup campaign, and it is unlikely to be an extended hiatus from the side.
He's not perfect, but in his ball-playing ability and physical qualities he is very much a supermarket-brand Virgil van Dijk. Will this be good enough to beat a France side that Aymeric Laporte literally can't get into? Only time will tell.
4. Centre-Back: Joe Gomez
Speaking of Van Dijk, England would be a fool to leave out the man who not only plays alongside him, but often ends up outshining him.
Liverpool have had the best defence in the league for the last two seasons. Gomez starts in that defence whenever he is fit. He might concede the odd penalty against Iceland, but by process of logical deduction he more than deserves to start.
5. Left-Back: Ben Chilwell
When did everyone collectively decide that Ben Chilwell was the reincarnation of Djimi Traoré? The guy has had a perfectly fine season and has earned a move to play in the same back four as Thiago Silva, he clearly has a bit about him.
It's certainly tempting to guess that Bukayo Saka could be knocking at the door by the end of the season, but for now Chilwell is England's best left-back, with Danny Rose having lost his form.
He ranks ninth in the league for Progressive Distance - in other words how much he has carried the ball forward - with Jack Grealish, Wilfried Zaha, Kevin de Bruyne and Adama Traoré keeping him company in the top ten. Perhaps it's time to show him some respect!
6. Central Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
For a player who is such an important part of one of the great Premier League teams, Henderson has not had that game for England yet, instead labouring to make things happen when the Three Lions come up against a tactically savvy defence, but more often than not serving up a ropey collection of overhit passes.
In fairness, he has probably been given way too much creative burden in this side, which the arrival of Phil Foden can definitely help with, permitting Henderson to play deeper and keep things ticking over rather than as the more advanced midfielder in a pivot.
There'll always be the sense that England could do slightly better than Henderson, but as James Ward-Prowse showed the other day, it's easier said than done.
7. Defensive Midfielder: Declan Rice
Towards the back end of last season, Declan Rice looked more than ever like the player your West Ham supporting mates had been raving about for years.
With a good passing range, a subtle touch and a fearless attitude to taking on even the toughest opponents (he did a cracking job on Allan Saint-Maximin in July), Rice now looks ready for international football, and could be the defensive midfielder that England have been screaming out for.
8. Central Midfielder: Phil Foden
It was hard to watch Foden's debut against Iceland and not conclude that he will be starting in England's midfield for the next decade.
In terms of what he actually did, the Manchester City man was crisp and aggressive with the ball, combining delightfully with Raheem Sterling on the left and dancing away from pressure. Without the ball he was always looking to make a run into dangerous areas, giving a somewhat subdued England attack some real bite.
In terms of what he represents, it means that Southgate doesn't necessarily have to play a central number 10 in order to provide a creative spark, and can instead balance out his midfield options by playing Rice deeper as a defensive midfielder and Henderson on the right side of midfield.
9. Right Wing: Jadon Sancho
The most in-demand player in Europe right now, Sancho has not quite provided the same fireworks as Raheem Sterling for England so far in his career, but is beginning to show glimpses of the explosiveness that he displays on a weekly basis in Dortmund.
Marcus Rashford might hope to break into this ludicrously talented England front three at some point, but 17 goals and 16 assists in a single Bundesliga season mean that Sancho has more than earned Southgate's patience.
Sancho is growing in confidence, more eager to terrorise players at the byline and play with the freedom that he does in Germany. Though there is plenty of competition for his place, he has done everything right so far.
10. Striker: Harry Kane
It's very true that Kane has looked out of sorts for well over a year, but there are a few things for England fans to bear in mind.
Firstly, he always looks pretty switched on in a Three Lions jersey, which suggests that the chaos at Tottenham is perhaps slightly responsible. Then, there's the issue of who would replace him - can you guarantee that Tammy Abraham will play every week for Chelsea, or that Danny Ings will replicate his stunning season at Southampton?
But also, having had time to recover from various bits of wear and tear during the Premier League's unexpected off-season, Kane looked much sharper after the restart, attacking crosses, taking on more shots and showing glimpses of the supreme confidence that propelled him to stardom in the first place.
11. Left Wing: Raheem Sterling
England's best player at the moment? It might be a lottery as to what happens when Sterling faces off with the goalkeeper from five yards (or even what happens when there's no keeper), but with Kane occasionally a little cumbersome, Sterling has decisively established himself as England's dangerman.
His relentless movement and habit of finding himself in excellent positions, as well as the fear factor he inspires when he drives at defenders with the ball are all signs of a man at the very top of his game.
Spain, Germany, France...you'd better be on your guard when he starts moving through the gears.
Source : 90min