England approach the deadline for naming their World Cup squad wounded by an abject defeat to France that drew scathing verdicts from coach and captain.
The gravest concern arising from Saturday’s 25-20 defeat in Paris was the manner in which the pack – for so long a source of English strength – was bullied by Les Bleus for a second successive week.
And one of the worst performances of Stuart Lancaster’s reign as head coach has also confused selection with number eight, fly-half and hooker under scrutiny as the August 31 cut-off point for naming the World Cup squad draws near.
Late tries from Danny Cipriani and Jonathan Joseph flattered England and alarm bells are ringing with one warm-up remaining before Fiji visit Twickenham in the tournament opener on September 18.
Chris Robshaw, who returned as captain after missing last Saturday’s narrow win over France, rounded on the shortcomings that enabled France to seize a 15-6 interval lead.
“We lost our discipline. In the first half we were shocking with our discipline,” the Harlequins openside told Sky Sports.
“Myself and the other boys just gave too many penalties away and it left us with a lot to do in the second half.
“By our standards it wasn’t good enough and we’ve got a big two weeks before we play Ireland. There’s a lot to work on.”
The visit of Joe Schmidt’s RBS 6 Nations champions to Twickenham on September 5 has become a match England dare not lose – and the World Cup has yet to kick off.
“We’re two weeks away from Ireland and four weeks away from Fiji. I’ll expect a reaction next time we play,” Lancaster said.