• Sweden 4-2 England
• All the best pictures from the game in our gallery
By the end, Roy Hodgson had given six different players their debuts. Leon Osman, Raheem Sterling and Steven Caulker all began the match while Carl Jenkinson, Ryan Shawcross and Wilfried Zaha were introduced in the second half. They will cherish the memories but, equally, they will be quite grateful if they do not have to come up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic any time soon.
Has there been a better performance from an opposition striker in an England fixture? Possibly, yet Ibrahimovic has put himself in the record books with this demonstration of spectacular finishing. Sweden's captain, talisman and inspiration seemed determined to do everything he could to upstage everyone on the night of Steven Gerrard's 100th cap and he finished a remarkable performance with all four Sweden goals.
The fourth in particular, an overhead volley from an almost implausible angle and distance, was the kind of rare brilliance that could be associated with only an elite band of footballers. The third was not too shabby either, coming direct from a free-kick over 25 yards, and the first two were other reminders of the man's uncommon ability. England have to be grateful he was not on this form when the sides met in the summer. If he had touched these exhilarating heights, the ordeal at Euro 2012 may have come even more quickly.
Hodgson's team had led 2-1, on course for their first win in Sweden since 1965, after recovering from Ibrahimovic's opener to equalise via Danny Welbeck in the 35th minute, followed shortly afterwards by Caulker becoming the first England player to score on his debut since David Nugent against Andorra in 2007. To think England's supporters could be heard loudly mocking Ibrahimovic at this point as a substandard version of Andy Carroll. The one-man show in the last quarter of an hour should guarantee they never make the same mistake again.
Hodgson, however, was not clutching at straws when he argued there were still plenty of positives. Sterling looked lively, with his enthusiasm to run at Sweden's defenders. Osman was impressive, always wanting the ball and generally doing the right thing with it. Caulker will be better for the experience.
Of all the debutants, Shawcross was the only one who really suffered. England had been leading when he went on the pitch, in direct combat to Ibrahimovic, and the Stoke City defender was at fault for the goal that made it 2-2. It was a bad night for Joe Hart, too, following on from his mistake for Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. One mixup with Gary Cahill presented Mathias Ranegie with a chance to make it 2-0. There was a dropped catch, albeit under pressure from the same player, in the second half, and Ibrahimovic's fourth came from the goalkeeper running out of his penalty area to meet a long ball and not getting enough distance with his headed clearance.
Hodgson admitted afterwards it was "not one of Joe's best nights" though, in fairness, it was still fairly ludicrous that Ibrahimovic could score from such a position, throwing his body at the ball, connecting perfectly and sending the ball into the air, up and down and dropping into the empty goal.
Ibrahimovic's first was another beauty and a lesson, too, for Sterling given that it was he who lost the ball in the buildup. Martin Olsson exchanged passes with Ranegie and sent a low cross into the penalty area. Ibrahimovic's first shot came back off Caulker. The second was an old-fashioned toe-poke that was still rising as it arrowed into the top corner.
England's response was impressive. Welbeck volleyed in at the far post after Ashley Young had broken free on the left wing and eluded Sebastian Larsson. Three minutes later, Gerrard stood over a free-kick on the right wing. The delivery was sumptuous and Caulker slid in at the back post to score from close range.
For a long spell after that, England were pretty comfortable. Tom Cleverley looks increasingly confident at this level, while Gerrard seemed determined to mark his milestone with a good performance. Hodgson will be glad to see Jack Wilshere back in an England shirt, brought on just after an hour, and praised Osman afterwards as one of the team's better performers.
The problem for England was that, among the blitz of second-half substitutes, the Swedish No10 never went up. After 78 minutes Anders Svensson sent a long ball through the middle and Shawcross lost its flight. Ibrahimovic cushioned the ball on his chest and, in one movement, volleyed emphatically past Hart.
His next moment of brilliance came six minutes later, rifling his free-kick into the bottom corner to become the first player to score a hat-trick against England since Marco van Basten in the 1988 European Championship. The highlight arrived in stoppage time. It was a masterclass in finishing, a wonderful way to open Sweden's national stadium, and afterwards Ibrahimovic was asked to consider the fact Gerrard had given his England career a mark of six or seven out of 10. What would the match-winner give himself? "Ten."