As England toiled here in Copenhagen, you couldn’t help but ponder what Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were thinking back home in Manchester.
The team they had left in disgrace just 24 hours prior were labouring, void of any invention or craft whatsoever.
How Gareth Southgate could have done with his fledglings last night. That, above all else, should hurt Greenwood and Foden more than anything else.
Denmark 0-0 England: Gareth’s Southgate’s men held to draw as Harry Kane has injury-time effort cleared off the line after Kasper Schmeichel error, with Christian Eriksen missing glorious chance for the hosts.
Their team-mates were clearly in need of their own brand of youthful genius, but neither were able to answer the call. What’s worse, they only have themselves to blame.
But the unavailability of his two youngster, and the reasons behind it, was neither here nor there for the England manager as he watched his side struggle to lay a glove on Denmark during a truly forgettable night of international football.
Following the tumultuous events of the past fortnight, Southgate would have been relieved to turn his focus elsewhere for 90 minutes.
Last night’s clash would provide only temporary respite, of course. The repercussions of Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden’s clandestine meeting with two Icelandic models on Sunday will continue long into the future for England manager.
So, too, will the question marks over Harry Maguire’s integrity ahead of his re-trial next year. Southgate has all that to look forward to, or not as the case may be.
But that’s life as England manager, Southgate’s faced enough crises during his tenure to know the drill.
Winning football matches will help diminish whatever anxieties Southgate may suffer over how he navigates the headaches that lie ahead.
Judging by this performance, Southgate can add winning football matches to his list of headaches.
Here in Copenhagen, he took the opportunity to blood two new players – Kalvin Phillips and Conor Coady were handed their England debuts from the start as Southgate switched to a back-three.
It’s a system Southgate is believed to be giving serious consideration to persisting with until next summer’s European Championships.
Coady certainly appeared to benefit from the formation switch as the Wolves central defender made an accomplished start to life on the international stage.
The fact this was his first time in an England senior shirt – or in the squad for that matter – made no odds to the Liverpudlian as he loudly set about organising his defence with authority.
He certainly wasn’t all talk either – three missile-like long range passes out to Trent Alexander-Arnold inside the opening 25 minutes all found their target to set England away on attacks.
Phillips, in contrast, didn’t necessarily find the transition from the Championship to international football straightforward.
His first attempted pass was wasteful, soon after he was disposed inside his own half as he tried to carry the ball away from his own area.
But the Leeds midfielder wasn’t the only England player who struggled for rhythm, either. Southgate’s men were largely comfortable – but Jadon Sancho’s scuffed effort from Kieran Trippier’s clever corner in the 11th minute was all they had to show from the opening 35 minutes.
Indeed, their lack of creativity would certainly have been a concern for Southgate following this insipid first half display.
Alexander-Arnold had threatening openings down the right, Raheem Sterling had his moments down the opposite flank.
But those moments were too infrequent – and when England were in a position to penetrate the final pass was rushed or misjudged.
England had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them on level terms at half time, Jordan Pickford’s save to deny Kasper Dolberg in the 38th minute after Christian Eriksen made his former Tottenham team-mate Eric Dier look a fool provided the highlight of the first-half.
Southgate’s decision to deploy two holding central midfielders in Phillips and Declan Rice appeared to be stunting England’s creative flow.
England faced a similar problem in Iceland, having to rely on Sterling’s late penalty to earn them victory last weekend.
Yet, Southgate refused any temptation to alter his personnel or system at half-time.
Blind faith? It appeared so, England started the second half just as disjointed as they finished the first.
This performance was in need of inspiration. Southgate’s first change arrived on the hour, Mason Mount replacing Sancho, who has flattered to deceive during England’s visit to Scandinavia, as the England manager tried to add some pizazz to a midfield that was workmanlike at best.
Kane’s back post header from Trippier’s deep cross in the 69th minute followed by Sterling’s long-range effort that was turned behind by Kasper Schmeichel soon after at least provided some attacking punch.
But the fact Sterling’s effort – that arrived in the 70th minute – was England’s first on target of the night told its own story.
Jack Grealish replaced Phillips in the 76th minute for his England debut as Southgate searched of further inspiration.
Denmark could have wrapped victory in the 81st minute – Eriksen blazing over from close range after Yussuf Poulsen’s knock back.
But Harry Kane, who was deprived of service all night, was brilliantly denied by Mathias Jorgensen’s brilliant goalline clearance with virtually the last kick of the game as England threatened to snatch a dramatic – but undeserved – victory.