Gareth Southgate saw his side win two and lose one of their October matches after a friendly win against Wales was followed by a Nations League success over Belgium and defeat in the same competition at the hands of Denmark.
The international week started positively as an inexperienced England side eased past Wales, Dominic Calvert-Lewin marking his Three Lions bow with a goal and Jack Grealish providing the creative spark.
Southgate’s more seasoned performers returned for the meeting with Belgium, ranked as the top team in the world and full of danger even in the absence of Real Madrid star Eden Hazard.
And, although the home side were stretched early on, conceding a penalty to trail 1-0, Marcus Rashford’s spot-kick and Mason Mount’s deflected effort secured a victory that seemed unlikely at the outset.
Wednesday night’s defeat against Denmark didn’t exactly send England back to square one but the after-match analysis put the focus on Harry Maguire’s sending-off and whether the Manchester United man is in line for a break from international duty as he grapples with off-field problems and poor club form.
His early dismissal meant focus on Southgate’s team selection and substitutions was muted but the absence of Grealish from even a cameo role drew some criticism.
Overall, the manager will probably feel he has come through the week with more options at his disposal than he began with but knows that changes will continue to be forced upon him by the relentless schedule of matches at club level and the unknowns thrown up by Covid-19-enforced absences.
The pandemic means New Zealand will not travel for a friendly in November but the return fixture with Belgium and a home game against Iceland are set to take place and, hopefully, provide some room for optimism to take into 2021.