The way their rivals tell it, England reached the final of the last World Cup in 2007 playing "anti-rugby" - a profoundly negative, forward-driven, kick-obsessed style of union that undermined the tournament as a spectacle and drove the law-makers to seek radical new ways of selling the sport to a mass audience.
The way the red-rose hierarchy told it yesterday, the killjoy spirit is alive and well.
Martin Johnson's side will go into this weekend's highly significant match with New Zealand at Twickenham with one change in their starting line-up - Andrew Sheridan for Tim Payne at loose-head prop - and no change at all in their mindset.
Asked for his impressions of a southern hemisphere Tri-Nations series that showed a doubling of the try-count and a sharp drop in the amount of kicking from hand, the England defence strategist Mike Ford startled his audience with what amounted to a dismissive condemnation of much of the stuff played by the All Blacks, the Wallabies and the Springboks.
"There were three games in that competition averaging out at 77 points each," he said.
"That's not test rugby. We want this to be an old-fashioned test and we know what that means. We have a 'no excuses' mentality. We don't say: 'They've scored one try, so we'll score two.' We're comfortable with where we sit defensively, with putting up the shutters, and we're confident we can deliver."
Mike Ford has just made Graham Henry's job of motivating the All Blacks for this weekend a whole lot easier. Ford might like the old-fashioned "shit fight" which is referred to later in the story, but rugby has moved on. The scores in the Tri-Nations matches this season may have been high, but so was the quality of the play, and that's a big difference. The intensity which the All Blacks brought to the matches, especially early in the Tri-Nations was startling.
Last week's match in Hong Kong will have dealt to any cobwebs in the All Black side. For a number of the team, it was their first match in six weeks. They will be better for the match, and more determined because of the outcome.
England can bring a defensive mindset to the match; what else is new? We've often jested here that you can tell a match that England has been involved in, because the score is divisible by three. For as long as we can remember, English rugby has been dour, based around forward dominance, and a first five-eighth whose idea of varying play is to kick with his non-favoured foot. At times, that has been enough to beat the All Blacks; we don't reckon though that 2010 is one of those times.
We're picking the All Blacks to win tonight, and to win comfortably. We'd also like to see them win with flair and panache at England's Fortress Twickers, and show Mike Ford (and the "47 old farts" who run English rugby, so famously referred to by Will Carling) that England needs to move with the times.