So, the Roy Hodgson era begins in earnest and the next two games will tell us much about England's latest direction.
As with any qualifying campaign many of us are thinking about who might emerge from the pack, which stars will shine and which will fade.
Two Manchester United starlets in particular will be looking at the next year-and-a-half and wondering what it could bring. Tom Cleverley's England career has barely begun, while Danny Welbeck, with nine-caps and two-goals, has got off to a bright start.
But summer time changes at Old Trafford could see those roles reversed.
After suffering injury problems last season, Cleverley looks fit again and ready to play a big role in United's attempt to wrestle back the Premier League trophy from City. For Welbeck, a regular starter alongside Wayne Rooney last year, the picture is not so clear following Robin van Persie's arrival at Old Trafford. Cleverley will start plenty of games for the Reds, but we just can't be sure how big a role Danny will play.
I'm expecting a big year from Tom and he could well break through into Hodgson's starting XI over the qualifying period. The 23-year-old has the lot, he's dynamic with elements of both Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker. I like the way Tom gets involved, he pops up all over the pitch and I don't think we have anyone like him at the moment. Playing for United, he's used to the big occasion and is rarely overawed. He's got everything he needs to be a serious player for the national team for years to come.
Welbeck does too of course, but much is going to depend on how often he gets onto the pitch for United and how he deals with any time on the sidelines. Danny was in the team most weeks last year, and all of a sudden you have to suspect he's dropped down the pecking order. How he copes with that and how it influences Roy's thinking will be interesting.
I'm sure Danny will stay positive, and being big, fast and skilful he brings something unique to the team that I know Roy values highly.
But whether he feels he can pick a Welbeck who rarely starts, we don't know.