Just past the midway point of qualifiers for a major tournament is usually when the lustre of international football is most lacking.
The afterglow of the previous championship has long since dissipated, whether that be the will to build on a successful campaign or demand for a faltering nation to start again from scratch. The calendar is also not yet advanced enough for any do-or-die, must-win clashes at the end of the group stage for the teams till scrapping for a place in the finals draw. Some teams have already given up on qualification altogether.
Perhaps that is the reason why there have reportedly been less than 15,000 tickets sold for England's visit to Bulgaria's Vasil Levski Stadium this evening. There may well be a late surge in sales, but home fans could be forgiven for deciding that there are better things to do on a Friday night in Sofia than watch England grind their way to a 2-0 win.
If that sounds complacent or disrespectful then it is worth a look at the history books: England have never lost to Bulgaria, winning five of their previous nine meetings. The most recent of those saw Jermain Defoe score a hat-trick in a 4-0 a year and a day ago. That's Jermain 'four Premier League goals in the whole of last season' Defoe.
England may be the fourth-best team in the world at the moment according to FIFA - an organisation which continues to haemorrhage credibility at every turn - but they are hardly box office at the moment. If they draw in Sofia it will be the first time since 2002 that they will have recorded three stalemates in a row.
Mind you, it is not all England's fault. Under manager Lothar Matthaeus, the 1994 World Cup semi-finalists have won just one of their last seven games, a 1-0 friendly victory away to Cyprus back in March.
Still, Mattheaus had plenty of joy playing against England, and was one of the scorers in Germany's penalty shootout win over them in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. As such, he is hoping to imbue his players with that winning mentality.
"To play against a nation with such a great history is very special and the players must know that such games are remembered for a long time," he said.
"I would like to play against England but unfortunately I can't, I'll only be on the bench. My players must not run like a mouse from a cat ... I want them to play like Germans."
Despite the apparent mismatch, there are enough reasons for you to watch this match rather than a repeat of QI on Dave.
Darren Bent may be an injury doubt for England, but that should mean another opportunity to see if Andy Carroll really is an international striker or just a Gateshead clogger who got lucky. It is amazing that the jury is still out on that one even after a £35 million move to Liverpool.
We will also get the chance a fresh influx of the English youth that was so hankered for following the team's dismal showing at the last World Cup, with Chris Smalling set to start at right-back, Phil Jones possibly starting alongside John Terry and perhaps even Tom Cleverley getting a run-out.
The England captain - who, having been named as such three times, now gets to keep the armband - is looking forward to the prospect of playing with Jones.
"I'm really impressed by Phil," Terry said. "He has all the attributes that he'll need to be a very good England player.
"Being at a club like United has helped him in a very short space of time. He's one I will be looking over my shoulder at."
JT warily looking over his shoulder to see what his team-mate is up to? At least now he knows what it feels like.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "What we do now, over the next few days, will determine whether we are good enough to challenge or whether we are scrapping to get into the play-offs. I don't want that so I will be making it quite clear what we need. Deliver it or it is going to be a long season. We have been saying it for long enough. Over the next few days we will see the ambition of this club. That is the key thing we will see. We need to go the extra step now." - Nottingham Forest manager Steve McClaren on Monday as transfer deadline day approached.
Today, widespread reports suggest McClaren is considering walking out over the club's lack of ambition.
FOREIGN VIEW: A great Euro 2012 qualifying stat for you from Infostrada: Tonight's Group E clash between Netherlands and San Marino in Eindhoven sees the world's number one side take on the team sitting joint-last in the FIFA rankings.
COMING UP: This evening you can follow live coverage of Bulgaria v England (19:15), Wales v Montenegro, Republic of Ireland v Slovakia and Northern Ireland v Serbia (all 19:45), as well as updates on every other Euro 2012 qualifier in a bumper night for international football.
Jim White and Paul Parker will both be filing their latest blogs ahead of the weekend's action.
Elsewhere, catch full coverage of Stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana (12:00), the US Open (16:00) and the World Athletics Championships (11:00).