England lost three out of four warm-up matches last month, and have arrived in France in disarray having hit their lowest ever world ranking of eighth.
And now the Red Rose side have been put on notice about the quality and ferocity of the Pumas they must stare down at Stade Velodrome this weekend.
Hooker Agustin Creevy believes Michael Cheika’s Argentina class of 2023 might just be the country’s best team yet, and the Pumas are in France with World Cup glory on their minds.
Argentina finished third the last time the World Cup was in France, back in 2007, and this group of Pumas see no reason not to think even bigger than that now.
Creevy helped Argentina reach the semi-finals in 2015, beating Ireland 43-20 in the quarter-finals in Cardiff, and the 38-year-old admitted experiencing a similar feel in the squad some eight years on.
“Imagine how many teams I’ve played in for the Pumas, and I think this team is right up there with the best,” former London Irish hooker Creevy told Standard Sport.
“In 2015 we had a very good team also, and now we have a similar combination of experience and youth.
“The players that were young boys before are now becoming our leaders.
“They are doing really well and are ready to fly and carry on the Pumas.
“That’s the most important thing – they are not just ready to play but also lead the team. I’m really happy with the team.
“The confidence and commitment in 2015 was amazing, and I see the same passion and commitment now as we had then.
“It will be so special to play against England at the World Cup, we have so many Argentinians playing in England that it means a great deal to us.
“Our pool is good, I like it and I think we can qualify, but we’ll need to think step by step.
I think this team is right up there with the best
“That first game is going to change everything, in my opinion. The team that wins that game is going to take advantage in the pool.”
Beat Argentina on Saturday, and England can set about smooth sailing through Pool D to the quarter-finals. Lose, and Steve Borthwick’s embittered side will face a stormy ride.
Wing Jonny May has accepted England will enter this World Cup as underdogs, even though England’s coaches have refused to engage on the notion.
“I think people would think they’re favourites for this game,” said May.
“I think people have written us off a little bit.
“We’re embracing that, getting tighter as a group and believing a bit more each day.”