In the four months since the national team last trotted out at Wembley, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the Three Lions suffered a humbling Euro 2016 exit to Iceland and Roy Hodgson's successor Sam Allardyce lost his dream job after 67 days.
Last week's publication of secretly-recorded footage brought his reign to an abrupt and ignominious end, with interim replacement Southgate starting his reign with a simple 2-0 win against Malta.
Overcoming a side ranked 176th in the world is hardly a yardstick with which to measure success or progress, but there were flashes of promise as the first half came to a close.
The speed of thought and feet seemed to bamboozle Malta at times, with only wayward finishing and some fine goalkeeping preventing England from adding to Daniel Sturridge's header and a Dele Alli effort before half-time.
The second half was a drab affair by comparison but Alli should have added another late on, with the overall frustration culminating with Wayne Rooney being booed by some of the Wembley crowd after missing late on.
So how did Gareth Southgate's team fare? See our gallery above for player ratings.
(Additional reporting by PA)Reuse content