ENGLAND'S disappointing showing in the Six Nations tournament has at least proved that you cannot peak twice in six months.
The general air of lethergy and exhaustion that pervaded their displays accounted for their defeats against Ireland and France as much as any of their missing stars, but World Cup victory will no doubt ease any worries.
Given the resurgence of the Irish, the flair of the Welsh and the determination of the Scots, it makes for some interesting decisions when Sir Clive Woodward comes to pick the 2005 Lions to New Zealand.
And while Merseyside's star men Ben Kay, Matt Dawson and Austin Healey stand a good chance of making the trip, they will have to work hard to clinch a Test place.
Full-back is a position where he has a wealth of talent to choose from, with Josh Lewsey, Geordan Murphy and Chris Patterson all in the equation.
With Lewsey shunted out on to the wing for England however, the position looks set to be dominated by the Celts, with Murphy getting the nod for his greater presence and creativity.
On the wing, Jason Robinson is about as sure a thing as you can get, but the other position is wide open.
Among the contenders will be Ben Cohen, Denis Hickie and the Welsh trio of Gareth Thomas, and Rhys and Shane Williams. Out of those, Thomas looks most likely to shade it.
To the centres, and on current form this is a simple matter - Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy are the first choice partnership with O'Driscoll a firm bet to be the Lions captain.
For back up, Mike Tindall will be there, with Will Greenwood also likely, although don't rule out Iestyn Harris who has found his international feet in recent games.
Another dark horse could be Henry Paul, who would be inspired by a return to New Zea-land. At stand-off Jonny Wilkinson dominates the position - if he is fit. As sure a pick as O'Driscoll or Robinson, he will be supported by Ronan O'Gara, with Stephen Jones's goal-kicking also giving him a shout.
Scrum-half is a position where several players have a chance of making the journey. Were it to be chosen tomorrow, Matt Dawson would almost certainly be the first choice number nine, but in 12 months' time Wales's Gareth Cooper should be the man in possession.
In the pack, the choice for Woodward is to stick with England's tried and trusted forwards or look for emerging talent from elsewhere.
In the back row, Richard Hill will be in the team, although Lawrence Dallaglio could find it a tour too far if he struggles in the Six Nations next year.
The Irish will have a strong contigent with Simon Easterby and Keith Gleeson both world-class players, and Simon Taylor of Scot-land will also be there, injury permitting.
Colin Charvis of Wales stands a fair chance on the blind side and if he continues his development, Sale's Chris Jones could also tour, but probably not start in the Tests.
The second row will be missing the colossal form of Martin Johnson for the first time in three Lions tours, but Ireland look to have discovered his natural successor in Paul O'Connell.
Malcolm O'Kelly also looks a likely tourist, while Ben Kay will also make the trip once he shakes off the post-World Cup malaise.
The front row also loses a Lions titan in Keith Wood and the hook-ing role comes down to a battle between England's Steve Thompson and Ireland's Shane Byrne.
At prop, England's first-choice duo of Phil Vickery and Trevor Woodman would appear to be in the lead, but both have looked off the pace recently and need to recapture their World Cup form.
MY LIONS TEAM: Geordan Murphy (Ireland); Gareth Thomas (Wales); Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy (both Ireland); Jason Robinson (England); Jonny Wilkinson (England); Gareth Cooper (Wales); Simon Taylor (Scotland), Keith Glee-son (Ireland), Richard Hill (England); Ben Kay (England), Paul O'Connell (Ireland); Trevor Woodman (England), Shane Byrne (Ireland), Phil Vickery (England)