Samoa needed Wednesday night's tour match with Harlequins at the Stoop Memorial Ground like the proverbial hole in the head, given the extreme physical examination awaiting them across the road at Twickenham tomorrow. Still, they have pieced together a half-decent side, blessed with outstanding back-line talent from the National Provincial Championship in New Zealand in the shapes of Sailosi Tagicakibau and Lome Fa'atau, both of whom know an opposition try-line when they see it.
In addition, England will recognise one or two troublemakers from their last meeting with the islanders - a harum-scarum encounter in Melbourne during the pool stage of the 2003 World Cup, during which the rank outsiders frightened the living daylights out of the eventual champions with a display of profound character and no little attacking imagination. Semo Sititi, who scored an extraordinary try that night, will captain the side once again, with the gifted Tanner Vili at outside-half.
Under the circumstances, it is no surprise that Andy Robinson's team are viewing this third and last outing of the autumn international series with all due seriousness. There is no point in denying that a Test against Samoa is a step down from one against the Wallabies, and several steps south from last weekend's Jurassic encounter with the All Blacks.
However, it is equally true to say that England badly need to show the best of themselves with ball in hand after two performances dominated by the cauliflower-faced contingent.
"We need to develop and retain a ruthless edge, and it starts here," said the battle-scarred captain, Martin Corry, his face still stitched to high heaven as a result of the battering he received from the New Zealanders. "The first priority is to win this game, but I would also accept that we need to do more in attack.
"This is what gives the match its fascination, because we know how dangerous the Samoans will be if we allow them to exploit broken-field situations as we did in the World Cup. We can't afford to stand off them and let them play. We need to be committed and impose ourselves from the first minute."
Precious few educated followers of the union game expected England to beat the All Blacks last weekend, but having restricted the Grand Slam-chasing tourists to a four-point winning margin, Corry was bitterly disappointed not to turn the whole thing on its head by pinching victory at the death. "That defeat is still in the system," he admitted, "and I want it to stay there.
"At this level, players draw on emotion, and losing that game in the way we did was certainly an emotional experience. We have a chance to put it right this weekend. We're fully focused on the task ahead."
Samoa (team to play England): S Tagicakibau; L Faatau, E Seveali'i, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, Alesana Tuilagi; T Vili, S So'oialo; J Va'a, M Schwalger, C Johnston, D Leo, F Pavihi, L Lafai, S Sititi (capt), D Farani. Replacements: L Tafunai, C Viali, P Tupai, J Faamatuainu, G Cowley, Anitelea Tuilagi, L Lui.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa).