England eager to avoid a repeat of 1973
England and Poland have World Cup history. It is a past that is revisited every time they meet and the next page will be written in Warsaw's spectacular National Stadium on Tuesday.
The history is both rich and poor in an England context - from the pain of Jan Domarski and Jan Tomaszewski at Wembley in 1973 to the pleasure of Gary Lineker's hat-trick in Monterrey in 1986.
Poland still recall memories of the draw at Wembley almost 40 years ago - a result which helped them qualify and prevented England reaching the World Cup - to evoke a spirit that has been a scarce commodity in recent years, exemplified by their failure to negotiate the group phase of Euro 2012 with the emotional weight of a nation behind them as co-hosts.
This is a Poland team in reduced circumstances, rated only 54th by Fifa's somewhat maverick ranking system compared to England's optimistic - make that unrealistic - fifth place.
But every England visit creates an ambience of hope in Poland, albeit based on old battles that ended the reign of World Cup-winner Sir Alf Ramsey, and those passions will be stirred in a sell-out crowd inside a football theatre built for the Euro 2012 showpiece.
Roy Hodgson and his England players arrived in Warsaw on Monday in good heart after a satisfying Friday that saw them wipe out the flimsy challenge of San Marino at Wembley while receiving the good news from Chisinau that close rivals Ukraine had been held by Moldova.
So England's qualifier with Poland offers opportunities for Hodgson. Victory gives England a measure of control in a potentially tight Group H and could be used to make a statement about the direction Hodgson is heading in.
Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski will provide a stern test to the English defenders. Photo: Reuters.
Defeat, however, will raise questions and leave Hodgson and England to deal with the unpleasant notion of stewing on a bad result between now and the next qualifying game against San Marino on 22 March.
Hodgson's selection for the procession against San Marino cast more than a cursory nod in the direction of this more testing fixture. Steven Gerrard returns as captain after suspension while Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Joleon Lescott, James Milner and possibly Jermain Defoe will all be back.
No-one would insult Hodgson by suggesting England approached San Marino lightly, but there was clearly no doubt in his mind which qualifier would require his squad's heavy artillery.
Hodgson is aware that history provides a colourful background to this fixture, but even this avid student of the game's past knows that only the present and future counts in Warsaw on Tuesday.
He said: "I recall the Wembley game in 1973 and, of course, it came more than seven years after England won the World Cup. Sir Alf Ramsey was probably going into his 10th year as manager and he had that enormous success in 1966 at the World Cup.
"It was a bitter moment when England failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, but the fact is the historical moments don't interest me as far as this game is concerned. I don't ever dismiss history, but the bottom line for us is working for today and for tomorrow.
"It's about what we are trying to build. A knowledge of history gives you some perspective, but it doesn't help you win a football match."
New Poland coach Waldemar Fornalik needs victory to shape his new era after replacing Franciszek Smuda, but he must do it without captain and inspiration Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski, who is out with an ankle injury, although he will have Borussia Dortmund striker and all-round coveted star Robert Lewandowski at his disposal.
England are pivotal to the great eras of Polish football. Wembley in 1973 confirmed the start of a golden age, while Monterrey in 1986 is widely recognised as signalling the end. Fornalik will hope another brush with "Anglia" can be the catalyst for a new generation.
It is the memory of moments like 1973 that fires the Polish footballing imagination, with even a brief television interview as England trained in the rain at the National Stadium swiftly shifting the agenda back to one of Wembley's blackest nights.
Hodgson does not want to be the victim in this bustling city and is well aware that victory on Tuesday will be of some significance in England's attempt to reach Brazil in 2014.
He said: "You are aware of the fact that when you're playing against your biggest rivals in the group it adds that bit of spice. We feel a great deal of responsibility whenever we take part in an England game. We feel the responsibility, whoever the opposition, to go out there and win it in the right way.
"Against San Marino it was 95 minutes of attack against defence. To have a game you need both sides to try and win the game, so this will be more interesting. Poland will think they can play well enough to cause us problems - and we think likewise."
Hodgson admitted the mere presence of England in Poland is an added incentive for the home side to raise their game, no matter how much they are in transition.
"We'll face a very highly motivated team with a very vocal and enthusiastic support because we are a scalp," Hodgson said.
"England have always been a scalp. Poland will be rubbing their hands with glee at this game because, if they can win it, this is a magnificent feather in their cap. We have to make sure we're not the victims."