England ease pressure on Capello
Fabio Capello claimed he was transformed from a god into a monster by England's World Cup failure in South Africa.
The impressive dismissal of Bulgaria in England's opening Euro 2012 qualifier hardly constitutes a return journey to his former status for Capello. It does, however, represent the first steps in the quest to restore credibility to the Italian and his team after that miserable Highveld summer.
Capello made it clear he was supremely indifferent to the tag draped around his neck after England's 4-0 win as he maintained his recent punchy public form, sparked by the critical fall-out from the World Cup.
He claimed he knew what was coming had England lost: "You write enough when I lose. Words are not so important when you win."
True enough, but Capello must also accept - and this comes from a supporter of England's coach - that much of the criticism delivered after the World Cup was fully justified.
The most emphatic answer to criticism is victory, and England's team spoke eloquently on behalf of themselves and their coach as they made the perfect start on a road they hope will lead them to Poland and the Ukraine in two years.
Capello, irrespective of the major wobble he suffered either side of South Africa, has a reputation that deserves respect not lampooning and also warrants the opportunity to put matters right.
And England began that process with a display that achieved the main priority of three points, but also offered optimism that Capello can take forward into the sterner test that awaits against Switzerland in Basle on Tuesday.
It is no time for tub-thumping. One win will not hide the multitude of footballing sins committed in South Africa, but there was much to admire within the performance against a limited Bulgarian side.
Let's start with Capello himself. What at first looked like the rigid 4-4-2 formation that looked almost prehistoric and brought Capello so much scorn when set against the fluidity of England's opponents in South Africa, offered up something more as Wayne Rooney obeyed Capello's instructions to drop deep to do damage.
It was a tactical adjustment that reaped rich dividends, with a rejuvenated Rooney having a hand in all of England's goals. It reminded England and Capello of his world-class talent, but also of the mystery of his disappearance at the World Cup.
Rooney had a dreadful time at the showpiece, even his most ardent admirers would accept this, but the rush to write him off as a talent worthy of the highest stage was done with indecent haste. When Rooney flourishes so do England - if anything the World Cup was proof positive of this.
Capello's body language also answered questions. His lack of animation in the friendly against Hungary was used as a weapon to suggest he no longer cared for England or his job as coach.
While he remained stone-faced for most of the evening at Wembley, Capello was passionate enough to take his frustrations out on his support staff when matters were not precisely to his liking.
By all means say Capello makes mistakes - but do not say he does not care. It does him a grave disservice.
One of Capello's mistakes may well have been his suspicion of Joe Hart's inexperience, and his distribution, when it came to selecting his goalkeeper in South Africa.
England may have eased to victory at Wembley, but Hart's flawless contribution must not be overlooked. He made saves at crucial times, including one from his own defender Glen Johnson as the right-back threatened to confirm the impression that he is an accident-in-waiting at international level.
Hart's impact was summed up just after the hour, when he saved superbly from Stanislav Angelov to stop a Bulgaria equaliser, with England sweeping forward instantly to double their advantage through Defoe.
The Manchester City keeper's handling was flawless. It was the performance of an outstanding young keeper - and one who has it in his hands, literally, to be England's number one for a generation barring injury.
England captain Steven Gerrard patrolled central midfield with real authority and the relish of a player enjoying his role, while Manchester City's exciting and refreshingly direct Adam Johnson delivered a cameo that brought him his first international goal.
He appeared for Theo Walcott, who did not have the most fruitful night, but the Arsenal youngster's time will come and his start to the season bodes well for club and country.
Johnson and Walcott are two of the younger generation Capello suggested he would count on after the World Cup. In time they can offer width, pace and goals - while remembering all this must be carefully placed in the context of more difficult games to come.
England coped well with the absence of Chelsea duo John Terry and Frank Lampard, although it may be tougher to do so in Basle on Tuesday.
But Everton's Phil Jagielka barely put a foot wrong in central defence and enhanced his reputation in the absence of Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
There was one dark cloud on England's night, and that was the injury suffered by Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, who appeared to suffer serious knee damage when falling awkwardly early in the second half.
As he was stretchered away in agony, it seemed obvious that he is facing a lengthy spell out of the game - a bitter blow to this honest, talented defender who also has a reputation as one of football's most genuine personalities. The concern of his team-mates, and Capello as he spoke afterwards, was clear.
Capello and England now move on to Basle and the encounter with Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland, where they will guard against getting carried away with one victory and will not be lulled by the dismal performance of their opponents in a goalless draw with Australia on Friday.
England's shambolic showing in South Africa will act as a formidable shield against any triumphalism or complacency that may come from a single win. All bets will be off again if England lose on Tuesday.
For Capello and his team, though, the beating of Bulgaria will at least bring a measure of confidence and respectability back to the camp.