And then the hit, the check, the end. Had one of the ninety nine times out of a hundred that Rob Earnshaw tucks balls into open nets come up, then a disastrous night would merely have been underlined.
But this is why we love England. The groans a melodious complement to Lightning Seeds albums, songs of eventual English demise sung with pride, then dismay, then desperation. Quick rises and drops both in the big picture and the small - Owen's masterpiece, offset by Beckham's nadir; the joy of Munich, a misleading preface to failure in South Korea.
Last week was no different. Another externally successful one for statistically the World's fourth best team, yet another disappointing one for a crowd statistically the largest that has entered any English ground so far this season. They will continue to flock though, England's disciples seeming undeterred by what is fast becoming a predictable tale of mediocrity and mayhem.
As Capello, fans and the media hype the latest generation, expected changes are conspicuous only by their absence. Slow, stodgy, anemic play - nothing unusual, the replication of old habits. Pigs are already beginning to resemble men.
The correlation between international tournaments and the rust of a once vaunted set of players, is a decay already apparent in opinions of Capello's new crop. Rooney the dazzler, now Wazza the pretender, Downing too, suddenly an inferior footballer to the one so impressive in Bulgaria.
Egged on by a vociferous, unforgiving press, England's Sofia heroes are well on their way to completing an obligatory transformation. The promising destined to disappoint, the consistent to lose their magic. Capello claims to have foreseen Tuesday's under performance - pointing to his head, he assured journalists that he "knew." A highly successful manager, but Nostradamus won't be wetting his pants - Capello less a divinator than a careful observer, aware of a trend inherent in the English footballing psyche.
Here we make legends only so that they can fall. Lampard's past contributions are blurred when viewed through the lens of current form - arguably the best of England's golden generation castigated beyond belief. Failure in Ukraine and Poland will mean a similar fate for this "new dawn of talent." Joining Rooney '04 and Walcott '08, promise will be considered unfulfilled.
England's match against Wales was no different. Hope quickly cancelled out by a harsh surge of reality. Within on week, within one year, within a four year cycle, England's activity is nothing but highs and lows.
The sickeningly positive among England fans are already turning towards Cleverley, Jones and Wilshere, the more jaded stuck with a fatalistic attitude. Patterns tend to go on forever, for England failure is inexorable.
Rise, fall, rise, fall.