Solid but unspectacular start for Hodgson's England
Roy Hodgson's new England fitted perfectly into his "work in progress" framework after a start that was solid, unspectacular but with elements of genuine satisfaction.
Hodgson was at pains to paint the friendly in Norway as merely a preparation game for the forthcoming main event of Euro 2012 - but results on the board count and a 1-0 victory provided plenty of shields for Fabio Capello's successor.
He was able to take his flight back to London free from fears of hearing echoes of Bjorge Lillelien's famous - or infamous depending on your viewpoint and nationality - "your boys took a hell of a beating" commentary after Norway's win against England in September 1981.
And while readiness may have taken a higher priority than the result, Hodgson did not need to start his time in charge by becoming the first England manager to lose his opening game since Sir Alf Ramsey against France in 1963.
Hodgson praised Carroll's performance in Oslo. Photo: Getty
Hodgson had a mere three days with England's players before his first friendly. This is a crash course in learning about his new charges with no time to waste, and a victory earned by Ashley Young's splendid early goal gave the 64-year-old more than enough food for thought to digest.
It also gave him a refresher in the hazards of international management and the danger of best-laid plans as Gareth Barry left Oslo fearing the worst about his Euro 2012 aspirations after suffering a groin injury that requires a scan.
The performance must first be placed in the context of the experimental side Hodgson fielded. It bore little resemblance to that which will line up against France in Donetsk on 11 June and yet it still gave England their first win against Norway for 32 years and inflicted a first home defeat in two years on Egil Olsen's side.
Hodgson described the performance as "more than reasonable". The reality was that it was mixed - understandably so given the nature of his selection and his determination to explore all options before that definitive choice against France.
And while there was almost a testimonial atmosphere about this friendly, played out in glorious Scandinavian evening sunshine with the daunting ski jumps rising in the distance behind the stadium, the notoriously studious Hodgson will have had plenty to fill his notebook.
With Wayne Rooney suspended and Danny Welbeck an injury doubt, Hodgson will have paid particular attention to the performance of Liverpool's £35m striker Andy Carroll.
He did not disappoint and linked well enough with matchwinner Young to suggest they can at least hold the fort until Rooney is released from the shackles of suspension for England's final group game against co-hosts Ukraine.
The pair combined for Young's winner, beautifully finished after Fulham's Brede Hangeland was embarrassed by sleight of foot. Carroll also used his giant frame in defence when England came under a degree of pressure in the second half.
Young is growing in international stature and his increasing comfort in an England jersey will have delighted Hodgson.
In other good news, Everton's Leighton Baines confirmed his status as a highly-accomplished deputy for Ashley Cole while his Goodison Park team-mate Phil Jagielka performed with such assurance alongside his old partner Joleon Lescott that he may yet make the plane to Krakow if Barry is declared unfit.
Hodgson was also able to introduce Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his England debut in the closing stages, a perfect way to start bedding this exciting talent into the international set up.
England inevitably lost rhythm in a rash of substitutions but there was enough evidence of the tactical discipline Hodgson will drive into them with his relentless training ground drills. He will not rest until the team is shaped, literally, to his satisfaction.
There was a return to orthodox 4-4-2 with Stewart Downing and James Milner on the flanks, although more will be expected of both if they are given another opportunity. Rooney's return may mean a rejig of the formation but this game will have at least confirmed in Hodgson's mind that he has other avenues to explore.
These are the plus points but Hodgson will have observed other evidence with concern. After surviving the powder-puff attacking intent of Norway, England suffered old failings in the second half.
Too often possession was conceded cheaply, with Barry being a culprit before his injury. Such generosity may be passed up by Norway but it might be a different matter if England present such gifts to France. Carelessness on such a scale will cost points at Euro 2012.
But Hodgson allowed himself a smile and wink as he departed his post-match inquisition. He admits he has no time to waste and the doubts about Welbeck and Barry only emphasise this with his final squad having to be handed in by midday on Tuesday.
The clock may be ticking towards Euro 2012 just a little too quickly for Hodgson's liking.
But he will see his England in action again, against Belgium at Wembley on Saturday, and at least the first steps on the journey have been concluded with a measure of satisfaction.