taking the enthusiasm and goodwill generated by an impressive qualification-clinching victory and turning it into row over racist language, real or imagined, coming from the manager.
The outrage has abated when it comes to Roy Hodgson himself. Few saw any racist intent in his Nasa space monkey tale. He apologised and clarified straight away within the dressing room - after being told by his staff that perhaps it wasn't a good idea to call one of his players of mixed race a "monkey", even in an allegorical, contextually- appropriate way - and then did so in public after the story leaked.
Apart from those who insist on seeing some sort of link between his decision to play in apartheid South Africa 40 years ago (at the time of the sporting boycott) and recent events, most would agree that he wouldn't knowingly offend his players in that way.
If he does harbour racist views - and there is no evidence he does - he's probably clever enough not to air them in a room packed with millionaire twenty-somethings of all races, most with a gang of publicists, advisors and "go-to" journalists at their disposal.
Thus the story switched from Hodgson to the identity of the mole who was behind the leak and it is this which ought to be of concern: the fact an England player decided to leak this story, rather than pursue it through the appropriate channel, which in this case would have been the FA.
You can see a player who legit-imately feels offended being justified in going to the media if he feels the FA aren't taking his complaint seriously. (And, without question, the FA - particularly given recent events in the English game - not taking a racism complaint seriously would have been a much bigger story.) But a guy who runs to the media first - regardless of how offended he is or isn't - before taking up the issue with his team-mates and the FA is either not very bright or not a good team-mate. Because by acting this way it becomes no longer about seeking an apology or an explanation or even justice. It becomes primarily about embarrassing Hodgson and letting the world know he uses inappropriate language in a mixed race setting.
Frankly, that's what's terrifying - or ought to be - from the FA's perspective. The idea that, within a team, a supposedly tightly knit group, there is someone who will willingly go and dump all over the manager. The 2-0 win over Poland was only a few days back, but it feels like an eternity ago.
It's tough to tell whether the differences in the qualifying process between different regions of the world are part of the charm of the whole affair or further evidence of the inherent inequality of Fifa.
No, it's not the old chestnut about why South America should get four- and-a-half spots for their nine teams when Asia, with as many qualifying slots, have 47 countries fighting over it. (Though that's something which ought to be looked at too.)
Rather, it's just the different mechanisms that leave something to be desired. South America's long 16-game march is a journey towards the inevitable. To not qualify, you have to be clearly below par, as you get first, second and third chances.
Africa, on the other hand is comparatively brutal. First, you go through four-team groups with only the winner advancing. Get a rough draw, have a bad day and you could be going nowhere, which is exactly what happened to South Africa, Morocco, Congo and Zambia, good sides who crashed out at this stage after a single defeat.
Once that's done and you've won your group, you get a two-legged play-off against one of the other group winners. There's no margin for error here. You're in, or you're out.
By contrast, Europe is somewhere in between. The groups are bigger so you have more of an opportunity to bounce back after a loss. Iceland, Romania and Croatia will all be in the play-off draw tomorrow, despite suffering three defeats in the group stage. Not just that, but Croatia will also be seeded in the play-offs.
Though, frankly, looking at the two pots, you wonder whether anyone has an advantage. Portugal,Greece, Croatia and Ukraine are seeded, France, Sweden, Romania and Iceland are not. So as far as Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal are concerned, they have a 50-50 chance of taking on either France (who remain a bogeyman) or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Recent events at Cardiff City, where the owner, Vincent Tan, has sacked the head of recruitment, Iain Moody (described in knee-jerk fashion as "popular and respected" by the media, even though few had heard of him before last week) and replaced him with 23-year-old Alisher Apsalyamov, are the stuff of tabloid fodder.
You have a mad foreign owner who "knows nothing about football" - heck, he even changed the kit's colour from red to blue last year. You have a young foreigner (and not even from a proper football nation, but from Kazakhstan, Borat's home country) being put in charge of "player recruitment", which is in itself a weird, foreign concept since the omnipotent manager should be in charge of that.
To make matters worse, Apsalyamov is described as a friend of the owner's son, since they attended the same "Swiss finishing school". (Finishing school? What is this, 1920? You couldn't call it "boarding school" since that's what it is?)
Then there's the victim, the long-suffering manager Malky Mackay, a stalwart, honest man who has to put up with an interfering owner sticking his nose in on a whim.
The reporting on this has been entirely one-sided, which is to be expected since Tan has yet to offer an explanation for the move. And so we get the same stereotyped jingoism.
Two questions come to mind. Tan didn't win the lottery to raise the funds to plough into Cardiff and get Mackay's crew into the top flight (costing £125 million, according to him). He's a businessman who earned most of his fortune so you presume he has some sense of markets and public image. So why is he so unconcerned?
The other concerns Cardiff and what we expect from newly-promoted sides. Only Manchester City and Chelsea had a higher net spend among Premier League sides last summer, yet they have won just once since August.
Early doors and all that, but to anoint Mackay as the second coming of Sir Alex Ferguson whose genius isn't being appreciated by the ignorant lunatic who pays his bills might be a bit premature, no?