Can Wilkinson guide England to another World Cup final?
With the World Cup finally upon us, Jonny Wilkinson is once more in his element.
Given his long history of orthopaedic calamities, it seems slightly miraculous he is still around at all.
And yet here he is, 12 years after his first World Cup, eight years on from the swing of his right boot in Sydney that changed his life forever, preparing for his fourth global tournament.
If that puts him in rare company (only 11 others have played in four or more), Wilkinson is not in New Zealand to make up the numbers, even if when it comes to World Cups, he has plenty of them in his locker (most overall points, most penalties, most drop-goals in the tournament's history).
The remarkable thing about his latest incarnation is that, at 32, not only is he in the rudest health of his rugby life, but once again he is the man shouldering England's hopes of success.
Six months ago Wilkinson was ruminating on his new role as the team's 'closer'. He had played second fiddle to his old protégé Toby Flood at fly-half for the previous year, but his experience was still in demand as the guy who could come off the bench and put the game to bed.
But after Flood's shaky displays in the Six Nations finale in Dublin and the second World Cup warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff, manager Martin Johnson reverted to Wilkinson for England's final outing before the tournament, a 20-9 victory over Ireland back in the Irish capital.
While he didn't play with complete authority that day, his experience of tense World Cup occasions and ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over mean he is set to start at number 10 in the team's opening match against Argentina on Saturday.
Wilkinson is the only man to have scored points in two World Cup finals. Photo: Getty Images
As Johnson has reiterated several times over the course of the last month: "There's always a case for starting with Jonny Wilkinson.
"No matter how many Tests he's played, no matter what he's achieved, Jonny is still the one out there working harder than anyone in an effort to be a better player."
Wilkinson's confidant and personal trainer Steve Black raised a few eyebrows in 2008 when he said the fly-half wouldn't reach his physical peak until he was 32 or 33, and could play until he was 40.
That doesn't seem such a fanciful idea now. Despite a dozen major injuries, he was top of the fitness charts at England's summer camp, out-running the rest of the squad in shuttle runs over 40 metres.
"He is remarkable," said wing Chris Ashton, eight years Wilkinson's junior. "Jonny's ahead of everybody on the speed tests by about 10 seconds. I don't know how he does it because he's not that quick."
Certainly swapping Newcastle in the north-east of England for Toulon on the south coast of France two years ago appears to have refreshed Wilkinson, physically and mentally.
"Relatively speaking, I would like to think I am better than I have ever been," he said before departing for New Zealand.
"I can't say enough about how fortunate I am to be in this position," he told BBC Sport. "I am very privileged. I have had a lot of injuries but for some reason I always manage to be there or thereabouts when this World Cup period comes around.
"The experience and what I have taken from each one have undoubtedly been important blocks in the foundation of my career and my life in general. Hopefully the way I have responded at them shows what they mean to me."
Wilkinson was only 10 caps into his Test career when he went to his first World Cup in 1999. He endured being dropped for the first time, Clive Woodward preferring the more experienced Paul Grayson for the quarter-final against South Africa in Paris when Jannie De Beer drop-kicked England out of the tournament.
Four years on, he was indisputably the man, bringing seven weeks of extreme personal pressure and tension to an end when his right-footed drop-goal with 26 seconds left of extra-time finally ended Australia's resistance and secured England World Cup victory.
Incredibly, such was the unrelenting misfortune that befell Wilkinson over the following three years, he didn't play for his country again until early 2007, scoring 27 points in a remarkable comeback against Scotland in the Six Nations, having missed England's previous 30 Tests.
Later that year at the World Cup, his injury curse struck again days before England's opening game against the USA.
"I don't think people understood how serious it was," recalled team-mate Mike Catt. "His ankle was like a football."
But after sitting out that match and the 36-0 drubbing by South Africa that followed, he returned in the nick of time to steer England out of the group with wins over Samoa and Tonga, and through memorable knock-out victories over Australia and hosts France.
"I said to Wilko before the France match, 'You were born to win games like this'" Catt added.
If England overcome Argentina on Saturday and emerge as group winners, France and Australia may again provide the knock-out barriers in their path to a possible record third successive final.
The good news for English supporters is that when Wilkinson looks around the current squad, he sees a group of players ready to take that rollercoaster ride to the end of another World Cup.
"I understand a little bit about what you need to go to these tournaments and deal with the pressure," he added.
"You know when it comes to it you will have very good teams battling it out to see who can hold on long enough to go all the way. Looking around this squad, we should have confidence that we can be among that group. And when you are in that group, anything is possible."
Especially if Jonathan Peter Wilkinson is in your side.