Hodgson begins the long road to Rio
England's road to Rio starts on Dacia Boulevard and in Chisinau's Zimbru Stadium - compact and as far removed from the legendary Maracana as manager Roy Hodgson is likely to get.
The 10,400-capacity stadium was completed in 2006 at a cost of less than £9m and it is in these surroundings that England's campaign to reach Brazil in two years' time starts on Friday evening.
Euro 2012 was regarded in some circles as Hodgson's "free hit" after arriving in the job on the eve of the tournament and with limited time to put his own stamp on the team Fabio Capello left behind.
In reality there is no such thing as a free ride with England but there is still a sense that after Euro 2012 and the relative respectability of a quarter-final exit on penalties to Italy this is where Hodgson's long-term work starts.
Roy Hodgson and his players will face a hostile atmosphere in the compact Zimbru Stadium. Image: PA
And this will be work at the coal face for Hodgson and England, irrespective of Moldova's current standing of 48th out of 53 teams in Europe.
The Zimbru Stadium has an air of an environment that will be intimidating by kick-off time late on Friday evening here in Chisinau. The sight of England's backroom staff prodding warily at a patchy, uneven six-yard box confirms suspicions that conditions on the pitch will be as testing as those off it.
Ion Caras's side have a reputation for stubborn defensive resistance but in reality there can be no excuses if England do not fly out of Moldova in the early hours of Saturday morning with the first three points of their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign safely secured.
England's players have already captured the imagination of Chisinau's football fanatics. Supporters wearing a variety of Premier League colours milled around the team hotel and when captain Steven Gerrard left the rooms staging the pre-match media conferences he was greeted by a group of fans singing a familiar Anfield anthem - with expletives loudly and boisterously belted out in Moldovan accents.
And as England trained under floodlights in the Zimbru Stadium on Thursday, fans gathered to peer through gates to catch a glimpse of their training routines as lights flickered on in the grey tower blocks overlooking the pitch as the session got under way. England are always an attraction and Chisinau is no exception.
The aptly-named "Roy's Bar" has attracted plenty of custom and Hodgson will be hoping he is toasting victory at the end of a game he hopes provides the perfect starting point for the journey to South America.
Hodgson was in no mood to regard England's campaign in Poland and Ukraine as that "free hit" - but he understands the special attraction of taking the team to a World Cup in Brazil, the country that has written so many of the tournament's most colourful and successful chapters.
He said: "In some ways I could understand it if the Euros had been seen as a 'free hit' but I was quite nervous, quite concerned about the first game I took charge of in Norway so I didn't see it that way.
"I don't know that there is any such thing as a 'free hit' when you are managing England. If I had some I am happy to have had them but I am fully aware the task of qualifying is the all-important one.
"A World Cup in Brazil has a slightly greater allure than World Cups in some of the other countries where it has been held. We know what we have to do and we are going to try and do it. But you don't get what you want by talking about it, you have to do it.
"You have to be good enough. We accept that but we're an experienced group of players, some up towards 100 caps, so they don't need reminding there are plenty of banana skins out there and no free hits. If you don't hit that level you'll be criticised."
And as England trained, the scene was a far cry from a room in Rustenberg's Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus and the day after the World Cup exit in South Africa 2010 when Capello talked of moving on a generation.
In Chisinau, England's midfield may rely heavily on 32-year-old Gerrard, Frank Lampard at 34 and and Michael Carrick, 31. John Terry will be 32 in December - not exactly "Dad's Army" and Hodgson has no intention of being ageist simply to make a point.
He said: "Am I concerned? No - otherwise I would be making the decision not to use anyone who is 30 when the World Cup comes along and speculating on the young ones getting us to Brazil. The first thing we have to do is qualify, albeit that many people think that's a simple task.
"We don't believe that. We have to play well to qualify and to do that I need all they players at my disposal who can get us there, then we'll see.
"I don't write anyone off on the grounds of age. I let them write themselves off in terms of performances."
It was an argument that brought instant agreement from Gerrard as he sat alongside his manager. He said: "You should judge players on performances. It doesn't matter how old they are. The manager knows who's in form and who's playing well, who deserves to be picked.
"I remember reading all the journalists just before the Euros who wanted Paul Scholes back in the set up and he was 37 at the time. That gives me a few more years. I judge a player on what I see with my eyes, not his age."
And in Chisinau on Friday, Gerrard will hope to take the first steps on a journey he hopes will end in Brazil and a final flourish to his England career.