Is England a camp divided?
World Cup 2010: Rustenburg
In quite easily the most thrilling and eventful hour of England's World Cup campaign to date, John Terry was restored to captain in all but name as he exposed life inside Fabio Capello's regime.
Terry's role was to present England's united front after the shameful display in the draw against Algeria was followed by reports of widespread unrest among the squad at their Rustenburg training base.
It was compulsive stuff - although reviews might suggest Terry's performance fell some way short of sealing all the reported cracks at "Camp Capello".
Terry waved away claims of disharmony and insisted England's squad were fully behind Capello as the accusations and speculation about his long-term future flew.
This message was drowned out by Terry effectively launching a one-man campaign to get Joe Cole selected for the pivotal game with Slovenia, then admitting boredom had indeed set in. Last, and by no means least, he revealed what might happen in a summit meeting between Capello and his players on Monday night.
Terry may have been stripped of the armband for reasons other than football, but as he openly laid bare some of the problems at the heart of England's stuttering South African mission, it was clear he still regards himself as this squad's leader.
To witness Capello's immediate response, as the coach who prides himself on throwing a veil of secrecy over his plans, would have been priceless as brutal honesty about England's current dismal plight oozed out of Terry.
In defence of Chelsea's captain Capello demanded passion from his players after sleepwalking their way around Cape Town against Algeria, and Terry provided more than enough to go around.
Some felt Terry had been too candid, told too many secrets. Not here - a toxic cloud had gathered over England's squad since the Algeria game and at least the former captain came out swinging and tried to do something about it.
How can you criticise players for not being open and then criticise them when they are?
What Terry did not do, however, was totally banish the growing sense that England's camp is not entirely happy with their lot tucked away behind the iron gates and overt security at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus.
Sven-Goran Eriksson created an almost holiday atmosphere in Baden-Baden four years ago, resulting in a destructive cocktail of too many WAGs and an ambience that was free and easy beyond belief.
Capello has taken life to the other extreme when perhaps a balance needed to be struck. The obviously failings of the relaxed Eriksson regime that played out behind a poor campaign in Germany undoubtedly needed to be addressed, but now the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction.
There has been a boot camp air about the weeks England's players have spent together since the end of the season, and hints that all was not well have been gathering momentum.
Joe Cole, what seemed like an age ago, responded to questioning about Capello's austere regime and strict approach by saying: "You can't suck the fun out of football."
Maybe not for one of the liveliest personalities in this squad - but it looked like the fun had been sucked out of football, not to mention life itself, for some of England's players.
Wayne Rooney, hyperactive and boisterous, hinted at tedium last week when he admitted he suffered the boredom of long afternoons in his hotel room and a day that was "breakfast, training, lunch, bed, dinner, bed".
Rooney, so poor against Algeria, admitted: "There are only so many games of darts and snooker that you can play."
Terry revealed the tried and trusted darts, snooker and pool were still diversions from serious World Cup business, but added that there were "six or seven hours until we meet for dinner."
Killing time has never been an English footballer's forte and Capello may need to address that aspect of our culture.
This is not a rallying call for Capello to order England's players to get roaring drunk and trash bars in and around Rustenburg - simply an acceptance that a monastic lifestyle for weeks on end does not work for everyone.
It did not end there. Not by a long stretch.
Terry openly admitted he would be willing to even upset Capello during frank exchanges at Sunday's meeting - and came as close as I have ever heard any England player to demanding the inclusion of an ignored team-mate.
He bracketed his one-time Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole with Wayne Rooney as "the only two in the side who are the kind to break down defences."
Give him the benefit of the doubt as I'm certain he did not want to offend fellow team-mates, but the message to Capello was clear - get Joe Cole in the side.
I whole-heartedly agree, but whether Terry was wise to indulge in such obvious campaigning is another matter.
Capello, who keeps England's squad on their toes by mixing ambivalence with the occasionally friendly approach, does not appear the sort to take kindly to taking orders from the rank and file.
In the absence of the coach, Terry came out firing. Some shots came out of a loose cannon while other hit the target full on - it was pure theatre.
If England are not disunited, if England are truly behind Capello, then all the meetings and all the brave messages can be rammed home in one, simple way - namely beating Slovenia to reach the last 16.
Old rules can be applied here. If England win against Slovenia and make an impact in the last 16, the present furore will be forgotten.
The Football Association have been at pains to stress England's group is not disunited. Terry attempted to do the same, but there is no doubt there is a suggestion that this World Cup campaign might benefit from a loosening of the strings by Capello.
Capello, in the shadows since Friday, got it right when he said before the Algeria draw: "The score is the most important thing. The other things are only words."
Terry at least tried to make those words count yesterday in his "captain's speech" - now they must be back up with actions otherwise all the talk of a camp in crisis will continue.