England displayed some genuine potential in the Autumn internationals, including a 35-18 dismissal of Australia.
But England face a challenge before their Six Nations campaign has even started, with injury to their captain, Lewis Moody.
It is a big blow to England coach Martin Johnson, as Moody’s influential leadership and dominating presence will be greatly missed from the starting XV.
The Leicester flanker is believed to be out for at least the first two Six Nations matches.
As a consequence, more responsibility will fall on the shoulders of England’s other experienced workhorses – the likes of Andrew Sheridan and Nick Easter will be required to lead from the front.
Easter and Mike Tindall are the likely candidates to inherit captaincy in Moody’s absence.
Johnson has played down the negative effect Moody’s absence will have. He said: “It is always disappointing to lose a player and leader of Lewis' calibre, but as I have consistently said, good teams adapt to injuries and that is what we intend to do.”
England should take much confidence from their autumn performances, with some impressive outings from their young guns.
Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs looks to be a world star in the making, combining electric pace, an eye for a gap and excellent game management that England have lacked at number 9 in recent years.
Northampton winger Chris Ashton scored the two tries in England’s emphatic win over Australia.
Ashton, who is still only 23 years old, and relatively new to the England setup, has shown some flashes of brilliance.
His Six Nations campaign will be monitored with great anticipation.
Another player to keep an eye on, will be Matt Banahan, who hit the ground running in the autumn games.
The colossal Bath winger is also relatively new to the senior team, but put in an excellent shift as England saw off Samoa 26-13.
Banahan’s huge frame could prove a real asset in what has now become an increasingly physical modern game.
And when faced with some of the other back-lines in the Six Nations, having a player like Banahan to punch holes in defences could prove critical.
England fans will feel assured in the boot of Toby Flood, who is currently Johnson’s favourite for the number 10 shirt, keeping a certain Jonny Wilkinson out of the starting XV.
Flood hit a run of form in the Autumn internationals, with match winning contributions against Samoa and a resounding nine from nine kicking display against Australia for the Leicester fly-half.
Wilkinson, on the other hand, has received much criticism for still being present in the England fold, as he now plays his rugby in France for Toulon.
But the RFU has ruled anyone playing in France after the 2011 World Cup will not be selected, “except in exceptional circumstances.”
Many have criticized the 31-year-old’s inclusion in the Six Nations squad, including his former 2003 World Cup winning teammate Lawrence Dallaglio.
England finished 3rd in the 2010 Six Nations tournament, beneath Ireland, and winners, France.
The last campaign saw a solid start from the men in white, with wins at home to Wales, and away to Italy.
And the years are ticking on since the last time England won the Six Nations, in 2003, which also included a Grand Slam and the historic World Cup triumph.
Johnson played a crucial role on the pitch in 2003 to lift the trophy, and he will have his work cut out off the pitch if England are to end their Six Nations draught in 2011.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Full Six Nations squad:
Forwards: T Payne (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale); D Cole (Leicester), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Wilson (Bath); G Chuter (Leicester), D Hartley (Northampton), S Thompson (Leeds); L Deacon (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais), S Shaw (Wasps); T Wood (Northampton), N Easter (Harlequins), H Fourie (Leeds), J Haskell (Stade Francais), L Moody (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps)
Backs: B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), M Cueto (Sale), D Strettle (Saracens); R Flutey (Wasps), S Hape (Bath), M Tindall (Gloucester); T Flood (Leicester), C Hodgson (Sale), J Wilkinson (Toulon); Scrum-halves: D Care (Harlequins), J Simpson (Wasps), B Youngs (Leicester)
Home Ground: Twickenham (82,000)
Coach: Martin Johnson
Record scorer: Jonny Wilkinson (1172)
Most capped player: Jason Leonard (114)
Drink: Carling or Strongbow – the fuel of the nation.
Band: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Massive in the ‘90s, but their more recent work hasn’t been up to standard.
Friday 4th Feb
19:45 Wales v England
Saturday 12th Feb
14:30 England v Italy
Saturday 26th Feb
17:00, England v France
Sunday 13th Mar
15:00 England v Scotland
Saturday 19th Mar
17:00 Ireland v England (BBC1)