England flounder in Polish damp squib
After the deluge came the damp squib. England grabbed gratefully at a point as they flew out of Warsaw but this was not a performance designed to make a 24-hour wait worthwhile.
England's visit to Warsaw has almost been plucked from the world of the surreal with Tuesday's World Cup qualifier postponed as a storm raged through an open roof in the National Stadium - then restaged using that expensive overhead protection as the sun beat down.
The storms that struck Warsaw resulted in a pudding of a pitch that was an enemy of flowing football but England could be charged with similar offences after a dismal display that left manager Roy Hodgson happy to take a draw.
Wayne Rooney's 32nd England goal, in just about his only constructive contribution, put England in position to claim a crucial and undeserved win until Kamil Glik's equaliser gave Poland the very least their enterprise merited.
Hodgson, to his credit, made little attempt to disguise just how poor England were - especially in a first half when they spent long periods seeming incapable of stringing three passes together.
If, as the old saying goes, possession is nine tenths of the law England were guilty of persistent criminal negligence, a fact acknowledged in slightly more diplomatic terms by Hodgson.
England have found the road to Rio 2014 is not a smooth one. Photo: Getty
He made valid points about the delay perhaps disrupting England's rhythm of preparation and the soggy surface not helping efforts to build momentum, but there can be no real excuses. This was an England effort that went beyond average.
It also strengthened the growing belief that negotiating a path out of Group H and on to the road to Rio in 2014 may not be as easy as many thought when the draw was made.
Would anyone confidently predict England's certain participation in Brazil on the evidence of what they have produced so far and with the fixtures that still await them?
This is a group where there is lots of capacity for points to be dropped so no-one can rest easily and assume qualification. Hodgson certainly is not.
England, as they should, made short work of Moldova and San Marino but draws against Ukraine and now Poland illustrate the scale of what they must do.
The campaign resumes with an away double header against San Marino and Montenegro in March. Montenegro will, in all likelihood, be top of the group by then making England's visit to Podgorica - where they could only draw a year ago - a decisive moment in their bid for World Cup qualification.
It is the default position of any manager to draw the positives from even the blandest of performances and Hodgson was right to point out that, even after 90 minutes as desperately mediocre as this, England still claimed a point in an arena that will not prove easy for their rivals.
Headlines in Poland's influential newspaper "Gazeta" on Wednesday morning read "Skandal narodowy - Basen narodowy" - translated as "National Scandal - National Swimming Pool". It captured the mood surrounding this game.
And there was no doubt the atmosphere inside their iconic arena was more subdued for the delay, especially as the ranks of visiting England fans were significantly diminished from 2,500 to around 1,000 because of the postponement.
Their reward was a game they will quickly forget. The tentative nature of England's game was illustrated by passing that would have shamed a lower league team in the first half. Rooney, goal apart, was arguably the biggest culprit.
And the normally reliable goalkeeper Joe Hart saw blame land firmly at his feet, responsibility he accepted with candour, with an ill-judged attempt to claim a corner that led to Glik's leveller.
It was simply that sort of night but England and Hodgson cannot afford to have too many like this because better, more potent, sides than Poland will not allow it to go unpunished.
Of course, the sub-plot to this whole game were the farcical events of the night before which have led to much embarrassment and no little anger here in Poland.
And while England's players cannot draw plaudits for the manner in which they played, it would be churlish not to acknowledge their very worthy efforts - and those of the Football Association - to compensate supporters who suffered through the indecision of the authorities on Tuesday.
The cynics will, no doubt, carp that highly paid players can afford it, but credit to them and the FA for agreeing to reimburse ticket money for supporters who stayed on in Warsaw to attend Wednesday's rescheduled game.
The Polish federation will set up a refund process for those who were unable to attend while all 2,500 fans who bought tickets will be invited to a special England training session at Wembley or St. George's Park before the end of the season.
The other reward England seek after this eventful stay in a country that affords a warm welcome, and felt genuine sadness at Tuesday's farce, is a place in the World Cup in two years.
England have made a solid, unspectacular start to their task - but will need to offer a lot more than they displayed in Poland on Wednesday to complete their mission successfully