Roy Hodgson believes the 2-0 win in Switzerland could be the start of a new bold approach for his England side.
Danny Welbeck scored two second-half goals to give an attacking England team an opening victory in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Hodgson, 67, said: "It was a bold approach but we decided there was no point coming here for a 0-0, we want this team to progress.
"When we can counter-attack, the pace, energy and youth of the team is shown."
With striker Daniel Sturridge injured, England lined up with captain Wayne Rooney joined by Welbeck, 23, in attack, with Liverpool's Raheem Sterling, 19, behind at the tip of a midfield diamond.
And the three players combined for the opening goal as Welbeck swept in Sterling's pinpoint cross, before new £16m Arsenal signing Welbeck sealed the win in the last minute from substitute Rickie Lambert's pass.
|England v San Marino: Tale of the tape|
|England face San Marino in their next qualifying game in Group E at Wembley on Thursday, 9 October.|
|The two countries have met four times before.|
|England lead by an aggregate score of 26-1.|
|England's biggest victory was an 8-0 win in San Marino in a World Cup qualifier in March, 2013.|
|Famously, San Marino took a shock early lead through Davide Gualtieri when he pounced on a short Stuart Pearce backpass in a 7-1 loss in Bologna in November 1993.|
Hodgson was pleased with how his side settled into the new shape and believes progress is being made after a poor Fifa World Cup campaign in Brazil this summer, where defeats by Italy and Uruguay and a draw against Costa Rica saw them exit at the group stage.
"Two important players in that system are Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling, at the base and at the tip of the diamond," Hodgson said.
"We wanted to get them on the ball. We thought that Switzerland would find it hard to deal with it and they had to change their system in the second half.
"This is the way forward. We've got to back them.
"Yes the World Cup didn't go our way, yes we have been disappointed - but we have been building up. We didn't hit a brick wall and it was all wrong, we had to maintain faith that we are on the right track and we are getting the right players.
"It was so important to get a good start against the team who are our biggest rivals in the group."
Welbeck had not scored for England since a brace against Moldova last September, but his two efforts were well taken to put Hodgson's side in early control of Group E.
With the top two teams in each group qualifying automatically and trips to Lithuania, Slovenia, San Marino and Estonia to come, England have arguably already come through their toughest test.
|BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty:|
|"Raheem Sterling - 7. Crucial to England as manager Roy Hodgson must surely persist with this shape, using Sterling at the tip of a diamond. Pace, strength and a perfect cross for Danny Welbeck's first goal."|
|Read all of Phil's match ratings here.|
Welbeck told BBC Radio 5 live: "It's satisfying. As a team we got the right result and started the campaign well.
"It's difficult to pick a team with so much talent across the whole squad but when I play in my preferred position I know what I can do for the team.
"You have to believe in yourself to get where you want to be."