Easy assignment but England can feel optimistic
England fitted in seamlessly with their surroundings as the World Cup journey they hope will end in Brazil in two years started with the smoothest of passages in Moldova. Chisinau's Zimbru Stadium offers a mix of Moldova's old and new.
The neat and tidy arena was completed only six years ago but is overshadowed by a selection of typically old-style grey eastern European tower blocks that rise imposingly around it.
It was in this setting, far removed from the legend of Rio's Maracana and the sands of the Copacabana, that England manager Roy Hodgson entrusted the next phase of his tenure to a mix of England's old guard and the new breed.
As the World Cup qualifying campaign began, he revived a time-served partnership - and a generation-long debate - by pairing captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield.
England manager Roy Hodgson praised Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley (10) after his influential performance against Moldova. Photo: Getty
He also gave England a fresh face by handing Manchester United's Tom Cleverley his first competitive start and keeping faith with Arsenal tyro Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It all slipped neatly into place in a 5-0 victory that emphatically gave the lie to that infamous note of managerial caution that states there are no easy games in football.
This was as easy as it gets, mere muscle flexing for the greater challenges that lie ahead for England.
Apart from a moment before kick-off when Hodgson gazed down at the playing surface that caused rumblings of concern in England's camp and shook his head, there was little to furrow the 65-year-old's brow.
Moldova presented the most accommodating opposition but England swiftly exposed the chasm in quality between the sides with two goals from Lampard and another from Jermain Defoe before half-time.
Late goals from James Milner and Leighton Baines applied gloss and gave the victory margin a more realistic appearance.
With the congratulations must come context. Moldova offered a lack of resistance that fully vindicated their Fifa ranking of 141, and at times even suggested it flattered them slightly. Those ratings may occasionally be the stuff of high farce, as the fact England are ranked third might tell you, but the Moldovans are measured accurately.
England have made heavy weather of this sort of assignment before, so to see this mission to Moldova accomplished with such ruthless efficiency can be a source of great satisfaction to Hodgson and his players.
The Moldovan fans accepted their fate graciously long before the end. Such is England's appeal that coach Ion Caras claimed 100,000 tickets could have been sold instead of the 10,400 who populated the stadium.
It may have been painful but they also enjoyed what they clearly regarded as the privilege of watching Premier League stars in action - and England did not disappoint.
England's World Cup aspirations cannot be gauged from such a formality, but Hodgson will happily draw some pleasing conclusions.
Lampard once again proved he can still be of service to his country, and alongside Gerrard, with another excellent contribution. The two goals he scored took his international tally to 25, leapfrogging Sir Geoff Hurst in the listings.
He now holds the record of 11 World Cup qualifying goals, once again defying detractors who seem to revel in any suggestion that his international career is over.
The goals were two staples of Lampard's long and distinguished career - the nervelessly dispatched penalty and the perfectly timed arrival in the area to head in Glen Johnson's cross.
Hodgson insisted before this game that players will only be written off on grounds of performances not age. Lampard and Gerrard offered weight to his argument here, albeit against a Moldova team of very dubious quality.
Lampard worked well with Gerrard to allow Cleverley to venture further forward and lend his support to the attack. Once again, this was not the environment to judge the 23-year-old's true international class, but the signs were promising.
It also allowed Hodgson to step further back from the 4-4-2 system his critics claimed he would never tear himself away from. The 4-2-3-1 format used here, almost as in a training exercise at times, looked a good fit for his squad and as a potential route forward.
Cleverley was industrious and intelligent. He got involved in England's goals and made a good impression in the number 10 shirt. If Arsenal can get Jack Wilshere playing regularly again, there may be a look of youth and quality for England in that crucial area.
Oxlade-Chamberlain also demonstrated why he is regarded as such a key component of England's future with many nice touches and a decisive run and pass for Defoe's goal. The 19-year-old's maturity grows on and off the pitch with each game.
This was England's biggest away win in 19 years since San Marino were dismissed 7-1, and a strong case could be made that they could and should have won by a lot more.
Ukraine will be tougher at Wembley on Tuesday but such an easy win will have raised England's spirits as they flew out of Chisinau and returned home in the small hours.
No defining judgement can be passed on England's World Cup ambitions in the circumstances they were presented with here, but this was a job well done and for that Hodgson can feel justifiably delighted.