Uncomfortable display means honeymoon is over

England remain unbeaten, penalty shoot-outs aside, under Roy Hodgson, but the honeymoon period is clearly over. This occasion offered up many of the more sobering aspects of life in charge of the national team: a red card for the captain, Steven Gerrard, briefly announced as the sponsors' man of the match; a Jermain Defoe goal harshly disallowed; a flurry of other cautions; classy opponents cutting swathes on the counter against a jittery defence. Salvaging a draw felt like an achievement. Ukraine are ranked 39th in the world while England, albeit mystifyingly, are third, yet all Hodgson's team could offer was huff and puff until their luck turned late on. Next month's trip to Poland, another threat, feels horribly awkward.

Lack of depth does not cover injury absentees

The lack of strength in depth available to the manager is revealed by slogs like this. Danny Welbeck injected much needed urgency and energy into this performance, but everything up until then suggested this squad cannot cope when it has 12 absentees through injury and illness. Not many could, in fairness, but the evolutionary process of this squad will have to be gradual. England had no Evhen Konoplyanka to dribble at a sprint into enemy territory, and no Anatoliy Tymoshchuk to dominate midfield. That said a lot. It is contests like these when Hodgson needed to lean on a Wayne Rooney or Ashley Young, a John Terry or even an Ashley Cole. In their absence, this was an escape.

Sloppy defending will be a big worry for manager

Hodgson had sat on his bench cursing the sloppiness which seeped into the hosts' play. England surrendered the ball too easily and then seemed panicked and ill-prepared to retrieve it. The chaos of the opening few minutes set a dismal tone. There should have been familiarity in a back-line in which three players – Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Leighton Baines – had featured for Everton, yet the home side were off the pace in midfield and distracted at the back. The centre-halves looked leggy, while Lescott's poorly placed pass into a prone Andriy Yarmolenko proved key to Konoplyanka's fine long-range opening goal. The six cautions, including two for Gerrard, revealed the ill-discipline.

Cleverley gets reality check at international level

After all the time and space offered at the Zimbru Stadium last Friday, here was Tom Cleverley's reminder that this is international football. The Manchester United midfielder had revelled against Moldova, but Ukraine were far less accommodating. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk sat expertly in the territory Cleverely hoped to buzz, tracking his every move. It took the 23-year-old almost 10 minutes to take a meaningful touch and, when he did escape the Bayern Munich player, his attempts cannoned back first from Andriy Pyatov's legs, then from the outside of the post, or even dribbled wide. He deserves praise for endeavour, but every match is an education for Cleverley at present, particularly in an unfamiliar No10 role. This felt like a reality check.

This qualifying group will not be an easy ride

At first glance this section had an uninspiring look to it, with Ukraine and Poland the most glamorous visitors due at Wembley. That gave the impression that all would be a formality, attention drifting towards those fixtures that will commemorate the FA's 150th anniversary next year. Yet England must draw proper focus now. Ukraine might easily have prevailed here. Oleh Blokhin departed talking about claiming the group's automatic qualifying place, but pointing to the strengths of Poland and Montenegro to come. England, with their clutch of inexperienced performers, must take this as a warning; they may run up cricket scores against the likes of Moldova and San Marino, but this will not be a formality. Dominic Fifield