Sven-Goran Eriksson faces another obstacle to overcome at next year's World Cup finals after England narrowly missed out on one of the eight top seedings for the tournament.
England paid the price for their failure to qualify for the 1994 finals, their defeat by Argentina at France '98 and the slump under Kevin Keegan as Spain claimed the final seeding ahead of Eriksson's side and Mexico.
England, along with the Republic of Ireland, will therefore have to face one of the top eight seeds when the draw is made on Saturday morning, while the two countries could technically also still be grouped with each other.
The eight seeds are co-hosts South Korea and Japan, holders France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany and Spain, while the division of the remaining teams has been determined on the basis of geography.
At best, England could be drawn against South Korea, Ecuador and Senegal.
At worst, meanwhile, they could find themselves up against Brazil or Argentina, Portugal - or indeed any other non-seeded European country, including Sweden, Turkey and Ireland - and Mexico or Nigeria.
FIFA explained that their seeding decisions were based on performances in the past three World Cups, as well as rankings and results over the last three years.
With South Korea, Japan, and France automatically seeded, that left Brazil with the highest number of points (62), followed by Argentina and Italy (56 each), Germany (54) and Spain (45).
England (41) were not only behind Spain but also Mexico (42), while the other countries who could have been considered for a top seed were Croatia, Nigeria and Portugal.
Although England reached the semi-finals of Italia '90, they did not qualify for the tournament in 1994 and were knocked out in the second round three years ago.
While they topped their 2002 World Cup qualifying group, it was only by the narrowest of margins and they were eliminated from the Euro 2000 finals at the group stage.
Even after the recent renaissance under Eriksson, England still stand three places behind Spain in the world rankings at 10th.
Germany may be further down in the rankings, while they finished behind England in their qualifying group and were beaten 5-1 in Munich, but they have a superb World Cup record.
Saturday's draw will place the 32 teams into eight groups of four, each with one of the top seeds, with France heading Group A and kicking off the tournament on May 31 in Seoul, while South Korea head Group D and Japan top Group H.
There are 11 second seeds, comprising the remaining European nations, and eight of these will come out of the hat next, one in each of the eight groups.
The three remaining European teams will join the other South American and Asian qualifiers - Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, China and Saudi Arabia - in the third tier.
FIFA will ensure that no more than two European nations are in the same group, while all countries from other continents are set to be kept apart completely.
In the fourth pot will be the eight qualifiers from Africa and Central and North America - South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Senegal, plus Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States.
In a further twist, FIFA will try to avoid having all the nations from the same continental confederation playing in the same host country.
China will be in a group in South Korea, ostensibly for "geographical and economical reasons" but realistically due to historical differences with Japan, meaning that Saudi Arabia will be based in the other host country.
Seeds (8): France, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Spain
Second pot (8 from 11): England, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Croatia, Portugal, Denmark, Turkey, Belgium, Slovenia
Third pot (5): Paraguay, Ecuador, Uruguay, China, Saudi Arabia, plus the three remaining European countries
Fourth pot (8): Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, Costa Rica, United States, MexicoReuse content