Better late than never. England ultimately ended up with more than an adequate margin of victory against Kazakhstan to maintain a 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying Group Six.
But the scoreline should deceive no-one. England were at times dreadfully poor and manager Fabio Capello will be alarmed how quickly the spark which so electrified their 4-1 win in Croatia last month disappeared.
Still, a win is a win, so the professionals say. And when the final table is compiled in 12 months' time, three points and five goals at home will not look so bad.
Yet it took Wayne Rooney's late double and Jermain Defoe's injury-time effort to eventually kill off spirited opponents ranked 131st in the world after Kazakhstan had rallied from a breakthrough header by stand-in skipper Rio Ferdinand and an Alexandr Kuchma own goal.
The win in Zagreb had launched a wave of euphoria over the Three Lions which should be enough for them to ride into South Africa in two years' time, if not as one of the favourites to lift the trophy, then a decent outsider.
As ever with England, too much can be taken for granted sometimes and the fact Capello's plea for supporters to cut out the boos, which have become such a feature at Wembley in recent times, lasted until the half-time whistle sounded told its own story of the opening 45 minutes.
Kazakhstan could not be compared to Andorra. They did try to play and attack when they could, and showed plenty of enthusiasm if not much finesse, as half-chances came their way thanks to some lacklustre England defending.
But, rather like a cup tie featuring a team from the higher reaches of the Premier League against one from League Two, the gulf in ability was obvious from the outset and a capacity crowd sat back and waited for the slaughter.
It did not happen. In fact, Kazakhstan goalkeeper Alexandr Mokin did not have a shot to save in the first half, two brave punches to Frank Lampard free-kicks the most exertion he required.
Disappointments were easy to find. The defence, with Matthew Upson replacing injured skipper John Terry, lacked cohesion. Upson was not commanding enough and Ashley Cole's concentration was strangely lacking.
In front of them, a midfield designed to get the best of Lampard and Steven Gerrard showed promise. Both men drove towards the visitors' box after receiving smart lay-offs from Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney respectively.
But on each occasion Kazakhstan's massed defence snuffed them out and any other moments of promise were overshadowed by sloppy passing.
Under the circumstances, and with his hat-trick so fresh in the mind, it was hardly surprising Walcott raised spirits - and the noise level - every time he touched the ball.
Aside from two fairly woeful first touches, the youngster lived up to his billing in all senses, apart from the goals.
His extreme pace and fearless desire to run at opponents threatened openings which, as it turned out, did not materialise for either Heskey or Rooney.
Capello's response was to introduce more direct running, in the form of Shaun Wright-Phillips, at the break, leaving Gerrard and Lampard to prove they could play together in central midfield as Barry made way.
The early signs were not good as Gerrard failed to cover Cole's overlapping burst, inviting Sabyrkhan Ibrayev to charge into the space left free.
Sergey Ostapenko probably should have converted the cross, Tanat Nuserbayev definitely should have finished off the downward header. Thankfully, neither did.
It was the let-off England required and, profiting from Mokin's poor goalkeeping, they duly scored.
Wright-Phillips' low drive was ruled to have taken a deflection as it whistled wide. Mokin tried to come through a crowd of bodies to reach Lampard's corner and got nowhere near.
It meant Ferdinand, lurking at the far post, had an empty net to nod his third international goal into. Having vowed to "cherish the moment", England's stand-in captain enjoyed the celebration.
With 21-year-old Nuserbayev continuing to catch the eye of Premier League scouts, the hosts needed a second, which came courtesy of Kuchma, who turned Lampard's free-kick into his own net as he jumped with Rooney.
It should have been over. It certainly would have been in Italy, where Capello carved out most of an impressive coaching career.
So, to see Cole aimlessly loft a pass into the path of Zhambyl Kukeyev, who promptly drilled into the corner, just four minutes later, must have been fairly dispiriting.
Cole was booed by the England fans thereafter, although at least Rooney sent them home in happier mood as he headed home Wes Brown's teasing cross 13 minutes from time.
There was still time for a brief cameo from David Beckham, who would be a perfect special team player, if such a thing existed.
And it was Beckham's cross Rooney steered home to earn man-of-the-match accolades before being replaced by Defoe, who also got his name on the scoresheet in the final minute.Reuse content