IT HAS been an awkward Six Nations campaign for England, what with two stumbling victories over Italy and Scotland followed by the Ireland debacle and then some measure of redemption against Wales.
The World Champions' stuttering form has been personified in the erratic performances of one of the key man on that famous day against Australia, hooker Steve Thompson.
The 6ft 2in, 18st 7lb Northampton goliath - rated the world's best in his position by many - performed well enough in England's first two matches before enduring what he admits is his worst experience on a rugby field as Ireland poached 11 of England's throws to stun Twickenham.
However, like the rest of his team-mates he responded to the humiliation with a powerful and - more importantly - accurate display against the Welsh, where the line-out was back to its accurate and consistent best, just as it was when Thompson held his nerve and threw to the tail to set up Jonny Wilkinson's winning drop goal.
The 25-year-old is taking nothing for granted, however, and is determined to raise his performance level even further at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday night.
He said: "Obviously when you are beaten at home and then play so poorly as well everyone has to hold their hand up, and it was my worst moment in rugby.
"Against Ireland we were probably a little bit flat and doing all those 1% things a bit worse, instead of a bit better as we did in the World Cup. In the Wales game I felt we had got some of our edge back and the line-out went awesomely well, but we will need more than that against the French.
"They are in tremendous form and we will need to take everything up a notch to compete in Paris."
Thompson has a played two, lost two record against France in France, being part of a shadow squad which was defeated 17-16 in Marseille before the World Cup and also losing in Paris two years ago, 20-15.
However he dismisses these results, and England's crushing 24-7 victory in the World Cup semi-final, as irrelevant now.
"It is totally different because we have new players in our side and so do the French, while the circumstances are different too," he said. "What matters is that we are coming up against the in-form team in the Six Nations at the moment, on their own turf, and we will have to work very hard to get something out of the match." And while his line-out throwing is under pressure, Thompson believes his role in the scrum will be just as important.
"Most definitely, because France are one of the most physical teams in the world," he agreed.
"People talk about their flair, and they have got that without a doubt from one to 15, but they are tough too.
Their scrum is always awesome, so I know we will have to be more physical than them to come out on top. I enjoy that side of things, though, and I am enjoying the build-up to this game.
"The French at home are a totally different side to when you play them anywhere else and that is an exciting thought," he added.
"When I play rugby I want the challenge of taking on the best and that is what we will be doing on Saturday."
With the late night kick-off on Saturday, Thompson said he will be sleeping as much as he can during the day so he can take the field as fresh as possible.
"We played some night games during the World Cup, so we are used to that side of preparations," he said.
"We will just keep things as normal as possible and while noone can go to France saying they expect to win, I do expect a physical battle and a match which will be very close at the end."
And as he proved in the World Cup, if it comes down to a line-out to win the match and time running out, don't back against the throw being right on the money.