Some wounded animals are dangerous, others just need putting out of their misery. France travel to England and Ireland, then finish at home to Scotland before determining which description applies to them.
This tired team with one-dimensional tactics needs a refresher, and their former Leicester hooker Benjamin Kayser accepted there would be changes in the squad after two losses to Italy and Wales. In any event, the wing Vincent Clerc, who missed both matches injured, has begun running again, while the flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo needs a check today on a damaged shoulder.
"It will be a fantastic challenge against England for a fantastic French team – if we're all playing at 100 per cent," Kayser said. "I would definitely think of the England game as a real opportunity, to go completely relaxed, when everybody's going to think we're going to lose by 30 points over there. We'll worry about setting our standards much higher and actually performing the way we can do. This game was much, much better [than last week] from the whole squad so it's even harder to explain. What really killed us was we had a fair few breaks in the first half and a couple of chances to score but didn't follow through."
Kayser's comments suggested a lack of direction among the decision makers. "When we get into those 22-metre zones, we try to score these tries too easily," Kayser said. "We have to keep our composure and build and at least come back with three points. We tried the easy pass, the easy option to go straight to the end without being more patient. We lost control of the game as we did in Italy and that's frustrating."
The French could now finish lower than last year's fourth place in what was their first season under manager Philippe Saint-André.
His options include giving the fly-half role to a specialist such as François Trinh-Duc and moving the Clermont centre Wesley Fofana infield from his wasteful station on the wing.
An extremely sombre Saint-André apologised for repeating himself when he anticipated a better deal for his overworked players when the league, clubs and union meet in June. He and assistants Patrice Lagisquet (backs) and Yannick Bru (forwards) must now add creativity to a good scrum and driving maul. "We were flying in November but can't give up," Saint-André said.