Chris Ashton was 15 the last time Twickenham was rocked to the heart of its cold, concrete skeleton by the reaction an England try. That fact alone goes a long way to explaining the euphoria that followed Saturday's swashbuckling win over Australia.
It was a victory cheered to the heavens by even the prickliest of Johnson's critics and held up by his supporters as evidence that he knew what he was doing all along.
Johnson has long spun the line that progress has been abundant on the training field. At last his players managed to pile it on to the team bus and shower it all over HQ.
So was this the day England turned the corner or simply a rare 80 minutes where this group of players' adventure and commitment got the reward it deserved?
Evidence to support the former was beginning to seep out the previous weekend, where patches of intensity and guile came close to reaping dividends but somehow lost their way down some dark All Black alleys.
Seven days later, when England went to those same places in search of the killer punch, their torch didn't dim, even by a single watt. They truly came out of the dark. Now they have to stay in the sunshine.
If Johnson was trying to keep media feet on the ground, he would have needed a hammer and a box of nails, but seldom seen victories of this quality will do that to a posse of journalists starved of positive stories.
Here's the problem Johnson now has. His players have proven they can do it and the benchmark could just have been set impossibly high. In many eyes, Saturday reignited red rose hopes of success in New Zealand next year.
Yes, England showed themselves capable of a world-beating performance, but it doesn't mean they'll do it every week. Twenty-four hours later Sunderland made Chelsea look like a pub team, but no one is suggesting they are about to wrest the Premiership crown from the Kings Road.
If England can batter Samoa and then make it three from four against the Springboks, it really will be time to check those Twickenham foundations.
Date published :
16 Nov 2010 - 09:27:53