England's nightmare has become a reality after they crashed out of their own World Cup in the pool stages following defeat to Australia.
It is the first time England, or the tournament's primary host, has failed to reach the knock-out phase in the World Cup's 28-year history.
Here, Press Association Sport's Tom Allnutt looks at England's other greatest failures in major events.
Football, World Cup 1994
After their mesmerising run to the 1990 semi-finals, England failed to qualify for the 1994 tournament as Graham Taylor's side drew at home to Norway and Holland, before crucially losing to the Dutch in Rotterdam. England even trailed San Marino for 21 minutes in their final match, before coming back to win 7-1. The manager was vilified in the media as 'Turnip Taylor' and resigned.
Cricket, World Cup 1999
England were joint-hosts in 1999 but endured a shock exit in the group stage. A comfortable win over Zimbabwe looked to have ensured progress but an unlikely sequence of results, including Zimbabwe beating South Africa for the first time ever, sent Alec Stewart's side packing. England were too quick even for Dave Stewart's official World Cup song, which was released into record stores the day after they were knocked out.
Football, Euro 2008
The lasting image of England's failed attempt at qualification for Euro 2008 remains manager Steve McClaren watching under an umbrella as his side lost 3-2 to Croatia at Wembley. The result ended England's hopes of progress and 'The Wally with the Brolly', as McClaren was dubbed in the press, subsequently paid with his job.
Football, World Cup 2010
A near faultless qualifying campaign proved deceptive as a drab and dreary England limped out in the last 16. Performances were as uninspiring as the results, with Fabio Capello's side scraping through a straightforward group after draws with the USA and Algeria, and a 1-0 win over Slovenia. England were finally put out of their misery in the knockout stages when they were thrashed 4-1 by Germany.
Rugby, World Cup 2011
England's quarter-final defeat to France was overshadowed by chronic indiscipline off the field as vice-captain Mike Tindall was fined for his part in a Queenstown drinking session, which featured dwarf-throwing in a local bar. Players were also criticised for spending their days off bungee-jumping while Manu Tuilagi had to be reprimanded for leaping off a ferry into Auckland harbour. Johnson resigned after the tournament.
Cricket, Ashes 2013-14
Australia exacted their second Ashes whitewash in seven years but the fall-out from England's humiliating 5-0 defeat would rumble on months after the last ball was bowled. Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott both left mid-series, coach Andy Flower resigned soon after while star batsman Kevin Pietersen was controversially sacked amid reports of a rift with captain Alastair Cook. English cricket has arguably only recently started to recover.
Cricket, World Cup 2015
Expectations were low but England belied them as an embarrassing defeat to Bangladesh ensured Peter Moores' side were knocked out in the group stage. It was England's worst showing since 1999 and brought into question the decision to replace Cook as captain with Eoin Morgan just before the tournament. Moores lasted only two months as coach before being sacked.