Gareth Southgate’s rehabilitation of the England team has been largely based around three principles: playing out of the back, prioritising technical play over physical force and deploying a three-man defence.

While the first two follow on from each other, the third stands somewhat separately. Formations are independent of style. Southgate’s system could be altered without moving away from the progressive football he has promoted, without undoing his work to build a particular ‘identity’.

And though this three-man-defence gave England their best World Cup finish in 28 years this summer, it is possible that future success could rely on greater tactical flexibility rather than rigidly sticking to a trend.

England first adopted three-at-the-back under Southgate in March 2017, little more than a month before Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were crowned Premier League champions following a season of unexpected dominance with the system.