Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster must find Plan B (Billy Twelevetrees)
STUART Lancaster stands at a World Cup T-junction.
Two years out from this land's showpiece world celebration tournament, the England boss' next turn is undeniably make or break.
Take a left towards the stubbornness and obduracy of every other regime post 2003, and England will hit a cul-de-sac of confusion.
Turn right for a rethink though, and England can add free-flowing fluency in attack to their gritty rearguard regimen.
The father and son relationship is special, catch that perfect bond at a special photoshoot for them.
* 1 Hour Photoshoot Experience
* Makes your men look hunky
* Includes A4 Print
1 per household
1 Adult and up to 3 children
May purchase additional images as prints or digital
Contact: 01242 509358
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
England were toothless in attack in Cardiff.
One great question hangs on the funk of floundering frustration: does Lancaster seriously want his Cardiff starting XV to progress to the World Cup?
Or does he realise, like the rest of us, that without a revamped offensive approach, England will never win the top titles.
Unless it is the latter – that right turn of the right-thinking – the red rose men are already a busted flush for 2015.
No team wins a World Cup two years out – but plenty lose one.
The scrum woe will come later, but first – Brad Barritt.
The South African-born centre is among the world's strongest and most brutal defenders.
In attack, he is currently struggling for Premiership class.
In isolation perhaps this could be surmountable.
But Barritt's attacking shortcomings leave him isolating not just himself – but also England's fly-half.
The ten-12 combination is now the most important inside back duo in any international rugby side.
Too often Barritt leaves his fly-half high and dry.
It exposes England to a dangerously-high turnover risk profile that even Nick Leeson would think twice about short-selling.
Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees ought to be England's answer to this current chasm among England's inside backs.
He is both bruising defender and auxiliary fly-half: there is no other England centre sufficiently accomplished and experienced to fill that role.
The 24-year-old Kingsholm midfielder has amassed his first four caps in England's flummoxing Six Nations.
He cut Cherry and Whites lines off the ball and through the gainline against Scotland, battled manfully against the elements in Dublin – but has had to settle for cameo duties since.
The former Leicester Tiger is confident he can solve England's centre conundrum but is not about to champion his own cause amid frustrations of both Grand Slam and Six Nations title aborted.
"I would love to have a further crack at the 12 shirt," admitted the Sussex-raised centre.
"But it is nowhere near as straightforward as suggesting I can be an answer.
"Our centres have performed very well in this tournament, the same way they did in the autumn.
"I'd love further chances – now I've had a tasted I just want more.
"But you have to have different styles of play for each game, to adapt to the different opposition.
"We've made huge progress over the last few months: nothing falls apart on one game."
One game: one rip-snorting, tub-thumping, gut-wrenching game.
England's heaviest defeat to Wales: under the closed roof that intensifies the Millennium Stadium roar beyond all other.
Even for Twelvetrees, only pitched into battle once his already-routed troops were turning on heel, it was an experience to remember – for all the wrong reasons.
"We've got to hold onto this emotion," he continued. "We are a very good team with a huge amount of potential.
"But we have to bottle this up, store it up and make sure we unleash it in the future – to make it mean something positive for us."
Wales battered England beyond black and blue, from scrum to breakdown, one skirmish after another.
A chorusing citadel of chaotic supporters heaped onto the marching bands and male voice choirs that so hype this occasion with such sweet baritone.
All Wales rammed into this Cardiff castle: England were overwhelmed from the word go.
Lord only knows what Gloucester's Nick Wood truly thinks of his England snub.
Lancaster's squad would have less chance of spotting a scrummaging loosehead than Baldrick identifying a subtle plan.
Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola offer energy around the field, but are the set-piece equivalent of the chocolate teapot.
Adam Jones' blood-thirst knew no bounds.
The injured Alex Corbisiero can doubtless improve matters – but not enough to render this shambles even solid.
Poor Dan Cole simply had no support, and was promptly upended by first Gethin Jenkins and then Bath's Paul James. The ignominy.
Gloucester boy Alex Cuthbert provided the death strokes, with two near carbon-copy tries.
England's incoherence offered Wales' rampant back-row two cheap turnovers, and the former Newent Community School pupil did the rest.
Lancaster was too honest when he admitted a Grand Slam here would have turbocharged the 2015 tilt.
Wales unsurprisingly jumped all over that statement: the team talk wrote itself.
England's landscape is wreckage at every turn today – but the green and pleasant lands are reachable.
Your move Mr Lancaster.
WALES: Tries: Cuthbert 2 (57, 66) Cons: Biggar (67) Pens: Halfpenny 4 (11, 18, 24, 52), Biggar (71). Drop-goals: Biggar (65).
ENGLAND: Pen: Farrell (21).
REFEREE: Steve Walsh.