Sky Sports' Chris Harvey was left deflated after watching England's 0-0 draw with Algeria.
Last Updated: 18/06/10 10:36pm
As flat as the top of Table Mountain. That just about sums up England's efforts so far at this World Cup.
For most of their goalless draw against Algeria, Fabio Capello's side looked - and played - like strangers.
They lacked imagination, they had no sense of purpose and they were totally bereft of ideas. Another performance like this and they are on their way home, winless and friendless.
Yes, they can still go through to the next round in the tightest of groups. But they will have stumbled there. The boos from disappointed England fans which resounded around the Green Point Stadium were of bewilderment as much as displeasure.
We've been here before. Back in 1986 in Mexico I remember England losing their first game then scraping a draw in their second after Ray Wilkins' sending off against Morocco before turning it round in the last-chance saloon thanks to Gary Lineker against Poland.
But the question now is what has happened to England? Where is the passion and the belief which took them through such an impressive qualifying campaign in which they won nine out of their 10 matches?
What has happened to Fabio Capello's magic touch?
Wayne Rooney, after so many niggling injuries, looks frustrated, his disgraceful comments at England fans betraying his feelings. He appears anything but the player who was supposed to cement his legend at this tournament. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have played a combined total of more than 150 matches for their country and yet barely look on nodding terms.
And if England fans thought Gareth Barry was the answer they did not understand the question.
Okay, the good news. There were no more goalkeeping blunders. During the week since Robert Green had made his howler against the USA, Capello had voiced support for the West Ham goalkeeper, but when it came down to it he was ruthless.
Green and naivety out. David James and experience in. And James did all right, although he was barely tested. It was not the number one Capello needed to worry about this time. It was numbers two to 21, the latter being worn by Emile Heskey, who had one of those matches he frequently has for Aston Villa. Anonymous and unsurprisingly substituted.
The first half, in particular, was everything we have come to expect from England in first halves. Disjointed. Slow. Cumbersome. They struggled to cope with the technical efficiency of Algeria. In short, at times they ran rings around England.
Thankfully, they do not possess a striker with the power or the penetration to convert their tidy approach play into goals.
England's problem is as old as the mountain that looms large over the impressive new stadium in Cape Town. They treat possession like a two-for-one offer at Tesco. Something to give away.
They have never learned to treasure the football. It makes the game hard work, both for the players and the spectators.
When Rooney is tracking back frequently into the centre circle just to get a feel of the football you know Plan A is not working as it should.
No rhythm. No tempo. No sign that Capello's men are growing in this tournament.
Yes, England looked livelier when Jermain Defoe replaced Heskey for the last 20 minutes. Yes, they pressed forward as they always do when strength and power begins to hold sway over technical efficiency.
But they did not deserve to win this match, which was watched by the royal princes, William and Harry.
The equation now is simple. England now have to beat Slovenia in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday to go through to the next round. That they are still in it is the good news.
The bad news is that at the moment it is hard to see where England's next win is coming from.