• Norway 0-1 England
• Roy Hodgson says 4-4-2 will be the way forward
Roy Hodgson leaned against the wall in a downstairs corridor of the Ullevaal Stadion and told the story of his wife, Sheila, giving him a dressing-down for failing to observe one of the etiquettes of his industry. "She is always saying: 'Why do you keep scurrying down the tunnel at the end of the games?' She asks why I don't stand out and applaud like all the other managers. I am not a great applauder, I guess."
An hour or so before, the England manager had taken the advice on board and walked across the pitch to acknowledge the team's followers. Hodgson then directed his players to show their own appreciation. The supporters clapped back and there was at least the sense that everything had gone as well as could be reasonably expected now all that stuff about "Believe", and all the other buzzwords, has been replaced by something more in keeping with England's real position.
Yes, the passing was loose, the midfield was short of ingenuity and there were only fleeting glimpses of a team of genuine force but that should hardly constitute a surprise given the flimsy preparations. It is only correct that Hodgson is allowed some slack considering the problems he inherited. The disadvantages are considerable and, in the circumstances, Hodgson had at least imposed a new structure on the back of three training sessions, even if it was a return to the 4-4-2 system that tends to feel outdated when the opposition are more accomplished than a Norway side in out-of-season mode.
Gary Neville, now a part of the new England set-up, is among those who advocate 4-3-3 but the pattern of Hodgson's career shows he prefers two strikers, one being a target man, and he is certainly working on this idea for when we get to the serious business of the game against France in Donetsk, on 11 June. "The way forward with England is going to be this way," Hodgson said.
The repositioning of Ashley Young is particularly intriguing given that Sir Alex Ferguson uses him as a right-footed left-winger at Manchester United.
Fabio Capello had the same idea as Ferguson, as did Stuart Pearce during his caretaker spell with the national team, but Hodgson believes the player's movement and directness makes him better suited to a central role.
It means the team lose penetration on the left, where Stewart Downing does not have the same cutting edge, but the Young experiment was a success. He evaded Brede Hangeland for the winning goal with rare ease and dovetailed with Andy Carroll as if they were trusted old companions. Nobody could have imagined this was a partnership that had been three days in the making and, if nothing else, it encourages the sense that Wayne Rooney's suspension against France and Sweden need not be as drastic as is commonly made out.
This partnership will, almost certainly, continue in England's final warmup match against Belgium on Saturday and, looking further ahead, the way Hodgson was speaking made it sound like Rooney would then compete with Young for the right to partner Carroll in the final group game against Ukraine.
The manager reiterated that he expects Danny Welbeck's ankle injury to be healed before the France game but Carroll's improvement has been so staggering he is now first-choice striker by some distance, barely recognisable from the out-of-form player we saw at Liverpool for seven eighths of last season.
"I just feel a lot fitter than at any other point," Carroll said. "I was injured when I signed for Liverpool and, after that, it was hard to get my fitness back. I just needed a run of games really and didn't get them, but I always believed in myself. We [England] have gone 4-4-2. The new manager has always played that well with his clubs. He wants a big man and it's great he's picked me."
The most striking point was the frequency with which Hodgson's front men interchanged positions, offering a fluidity that made them difficult to pin down. There were many times, indeed, when Carroll was playing in the hole and Young was the more advanced player.
"It's good sometimes if your bigger man is the one who drops into that space between midfield and [the opposition] defence and your quick man is the one on the shoulder of the defenders," Hodgson said. "We did that a lot at Fulham with Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson.
"Bobby was very often the man who dropped into the hole and Andy was the one looking to play on the shoulder. The good thing with these two [Young and Carroll] is they can do it both. Ashley can drop in and Andy can move up."
The next part is trying to get England's midfielders on the same wavelength as the forwards. More than anything, they need to start cherishing the ball a bit better and demonstrate a greater understanding of the perils of losing possession. A better side than Norway would have punished the moment, for example, when Gareth Barry's sideways pass went straight to Tarik Elyounoussi and left him driving towards goal.
It was not long afterwards that Barry signalled he might have damaged his groin and Hodgson was reminded that, this being England, the honeymoon always comes with storm warnings and the odd piece of lost luggage. Yet there was more good than bad on a weekend when Germany sieved five goals against Switzerland and the Netherlands lost at home to Bulgaria. Before the end, England's followers could be heard serenading the new manager.
"I should keep my wife's words ringing in my ears," he said. "Maybe make more of an effort."