England wanted to put the World Cup behind them but the memories came flooding back as Tony Smith's men struggled to make a confident start to the Gillette Four Nations.
Trailing 12-4 at half-time, England rallied to score 30 points without reply in the second half to get their campaign under way with an unimpressive 34-12 victory over a lively France at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium.
"We were a long way off where we'd like to be and where we're going to be, hopefully," acknowledged Smith.
"This group of players have had three training sessions together as a team and to get cohesion and an A1 performance together after three days is pretty tough."
It was reminiscent of the way England limped into the World Cup 12 months earlier with a 32-22 victory over brave Papua New Guinea, the supposed makeweights of the group who had led at half-time.
England followed that hollow win with a 52-4 rout by Australia and they need a dramatic improvement on last night's showing if they are to avoid another humiliation at the hands of the Kangaroos in Wigan next Saturday.
"I wasn't too bothered about the first half. We weren't terrific but I just thought we lacked a little composure," he added.
"I think my players were a bit excited about playing. I think they wanted to go out there and show everyone how good they were in the first 40 minutes.
"In the second half we did show that composure, so I'm pleased we can learn quickly and we'll need to."