England's new mood breeds confidence
Dismissed as no-hopers by many of their own media and supporters, quickly adjusting to a new manager and weakened by injuries and controversial omissions, this 'new' England have brought to Poland a refreshing sense of honesty and humility in place of what often, in the past, was seen to be arrogance and elitism.
Yet, as they should be for a team ranked sixth in the world and third in Europe by FIFA, they remain as confident and determined as any squad before them.
"We're all hungry guys," said goalkeeper Joe Hart, 25, the first player to face reporters at Thursday's news conference.
"We're all successful at football and that's what we want... we want success. We don't want to go out there thinking people won't mind if we lose, we can go home, we can go on holiday and no-one will care.
"We have high expectations [of ourselves] otherwise there's no point in us being here. We've come to win, we've come to do well. We've come to represent our country and we want to make people proud."
Both Hart and winger Stewart Downing attributed much of the players' sense of ease and confidence to new manager Roy Hodgson, 64, appointed on May 1 in succession to interim coach Stuart Pearce, following the resignation of Italian Fabio Capello in February.
After the 'fortress of silence' mentality created by Capello at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, Hodgson has introduced an easier-going mood and a sense of transparency.
"He wants to hear what we have to say and he is very open to feedback from us," said Hart. "That does not mean we believe we can go and do our own thing, but he is open to suggestions and ideas.
"But we all know that at the end of the day, he's the manager and what he says goes."
Unexpectedly, and refreshingly after years of media-trained regulation answers from England players, Hart spoke with a real sense of purpose and no sense of hype.
That, despite the sad return of striker Jermain Defoe to England, following his father's death, injected optimism following a morning training session in which everyone else played a full part.
"The mood is good, the training centre is all there and is excellent and we all believe in ourselves," added Hart
"I've been really happy thus far in training and in the game against Belgium."
That sense of well-being, shared by Downing, may also be due to England's new approach to where they stay - after the rural isolation of a spartan sports centre two years ago, they are in the newest boutique hotel in Krakow's old town, the Stary, 20 metres from the ancient market place.
According to the players, Hodgson has encouraged them to leave the hotel and go out for a stroll, to mingle with the fans or drink a cup of coffee - something unimaginable in the Capello era.
"It's nice," said Downing. "We feel good and confident and we feel that playing France [on Monday] is a great opening game for us. We are confident we can get a result."
England travel to Donetsk in Ukraine on Sunday to meet France on Monday in their opening Group D fixt