Four games in 11 days was always going to be a tough ask for England's players after a long-hard season, but it could not have gone any worse for Gareth Southgate who saw his World Cup plans in tatters.
Southgate had hoped the Nations League games would give him the chance to work on formations, look at new players and get a few positive plans in place ahead of Qatar this winter.
Instead, four games with no wins, no goals from open play and two losses to Hungary - including England's worst home defeat since 1928 - the Nations League has thrown up more questions than answers.
With just two more games in September before the World Cup, Southgate is now just 5/2 to leave his post before England kick-off in Qatar, yet the Three Lions are still 13/2 third favourites to lift the trophy so a change of manager is unthinkable.
Beyond the uproar though, the fact that few players impressed, or were unable to impress given the obvious physical and mental fatigue they were suffering, may actually help Southgate when it comes to his World Cup selections.
Who will start England's World Cup opener?
So who will run out for England in their World Cup opener against Iran on November 21? Well, Southgate has learned a few lessons over the last week or so, and also remember that he's big believer in international form over recent club displays.
He's also learned recently that some of the fringe members of the squad aren't quite up to the task just yet - so expect a familiar looking line-up with possibly eight players from the Euro 2020 final starting Qatar.
The formation will make a bit of a difference of course as Southgate started with a back four in three of the Nations League games but prefers three at the back - and given John Stones and Harry Maguire are his first choices who can blame him!
Despite Maguire getting booed onto the pitch at Molineux, it looks like it would take a seriously bad start by Man Utd next season to stop him being on the pitch in Qatar, but there are plenty of other questions to answer and a few decent prices to be had on possible starters against Iran.
Goalkeeper (Odds to start against Iran)
We don't have to waste too much time on this one - Jordan Pickford (1/3) finished the season well with Everton and impressed in his two Nations League games. Pickford will start unless injured with Aaron Ramsdale (5/2) pretty much set as his back-up.
There's a bit of a problem for third choice with Dean Henderson and Fraser Forster unlikely to play much and Nick Pope dropping down to the Championship - but nobody's moving Pickford anyway.
Southgate seems stuck on Stones (1/8) and Maguire (1/5) as his first choices regardless of the system he employs, but the rest of the defence really does depend on what system he plays.
Southgate has praised Kyle Walker's (10/11) growing leadership role so you'd think he'd start as either the third centre back or right-back, with Conor Coady (12/1) an outside bet.
Eric Dier (50/1) is the wildcard here as he's marshalling a back three at Spurs under Antonio Conte, has World Cup experience and with a strong start to the season may be impossible to ignore.
Fikayo Tomori (5/1) looked comfortable enough at international level but his starting chances are limited and Ben White (3/1) is in the same boat.
Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold are both 11/10 to start but the Chelsea man will get the nod at right wing-back if going with a three - as Southgate just doesn't know what to do with the Liverpool star.
Alexander-Arnold is England's best passer and arguably best creator going on his assists numbers compared with the rest of the squad, but Southgate doesn't trust either him or his centre backs enough to play right-back.
The stand-out bet here for me though is Luke Shaw to start at 2/1 - given the lack of left-backs around and the fact he started, and scored, in the Euro 2020 final and also adding three assists in the tournament.
Shaw's ahead of Ben Chilwell (3/1) in Southgate's pecking order and can play at left-back or wing-back so for me only fitness issues would stop him playing. He needed screws removing from the leg he broke horrifically in 2015, but if that's sorted over the summer he's a nailed-on World Cup starter.
Let's start with the obvious - Declan Rice (3/10) is one of the first names on the team sheet now and he'll start unless injured. Kalvin Phillips (4/6) may be odds-on in the betting but his form has nosedived after injury and if Leeds don't start well next season his spot is under threat.
Jude Bellingham (6/4) was one of the few bright spots for Southgate and for me he's got to make room for the Dortmund man in his starting line-up. He's got that drive and creativity and can play in a three or a two.
Jordan Henderson (13/2) looks a lot better for not playing in the team recently, and could possibly take Phillips' place in a three-man midfield ahead of Conor Gallagher (9/1) and James Ward-Prowse (9/1).
Mason Mount (3/10) is billed as a midfielder in the betting market and is one of Southgate's favourite players, so will likely line-up either as a No.10 or in a midfield three in a more attacking formation for a team like Iran.
Surprisingly, you can actually back Harry Kane here, but only at 1/14 and those odds should actually be shorter given the lack of alternatives! Tammy Abraham (10/1) looks like the best Plan B if the skipper is injured.
James Maddison (50/1) is classed as a midfielder in the betting but in reality he's battling the likes of Raheem Sterling (8/15), Phil Foden (5/6), Jack Grealish (9/4) and Bukayo Saka (7/4) for a place.
Jarrod Bowen (7/1) did his chances of being on the plane no harm but he won't be starting ahead of Southgate's more favoured options - and if we assume Kane and Sterling start then we're only really talking about one place possibly left.
Jadon Sancho (12/1) could be forgiven for enjoying the last few England games slightly as it will only increase his chances of returning from the international wilderness with a strong start to the season, while personally I'd like to see more of Harvey Barnes (50/1) in an England shirt but he won't be making this World Cup.
Foden is your man here at a decent price - as there's only so long he can keep winning things with Man City and not be a regular England starter.
England's predicted starting XI against Iran and best bets
I'm pretty confident on 10 of these players, and only a formation change to a back three would alter the selections - which would then see James come in for Mount or Foden.
Southgate knows these players, and with more pressure heaped on him by recent results he'll need to get through the group comfortably and start with a confident win over Iran.
In the heat of Qatar, keeping the ball will be key and having those four Man City players in there will help with that, while Mount can push forward from midfield with a tweak from a 4-3-3 to an almost 4-2-3-1 with the Chelsea man going into a No.10 role.
Luke Shaw at 2/1 is the stand-out bet for me, but Jude Bellingham at 6/4 offers good value and even Kyle Walker at 10/11 and Phil Foden at 5/6 are decent prices for players with huge claims to start.
England predicted starting XI: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Mount, Sterling, Kane, Foden.