Scott Parker admits the true test of England's changing team will only come if they confirm qualification for Euro 2012 in Montenegro on Friday.
Under Fabio Capello, England impressed in qualification for the 2010 World Cup but lost 4-1 to Germany in the last 16.
And Tottenham midfielder Parker accepts judgement must be reserved until they perform at a major tournament.
"We all know that we're sitting here thinking the true test will come at tournament level," Parker said.
"The last time we qualified pretty well and South Africa didn't go anywhere near to plan."
However, Capello is on the brink of leading a squad freshened by young faces to Poland and Ukraine next summer.
"We always seem to qualify well and now we need to try and replicate that at tournament level. We certainly need to do a lot better than we did in South Africa," said 30-year-old Parker, who accepts England will always carry a weight of expectation on the big occasions.
"There is always pressure when you play for England. I've not been to a big tournament but when you play for England - whether it is a tournament or qualifier - there is hype around it and you try to adapt and take it on board.
"There is more pressure at international level. It is a pressure and a spotlight which you would expect when you represent a county like ours and it is then about how you deal with it."
And Parker explained how he adapts, saying: "Anyone under certain pressures will either sink or swim. My take on it is that this is football and from a young age it's all I've ever done.
"I understand how important it is to everyone but my way of dealing with it is to put it in perspective, realise I'm going to try my best and if it's good enough brilliant. If it isn't I will look at myself and try to do as well as I can next time.
"I can only speak for myself and as a kid all I ever wanted to do was play for England. I understand pressure and the spotlight can bring out people in different ways, but all I've ever wanted to do is play for my country and that is the way the young players here feel."
And he believes England can benefit from having younger members of the squad unburdened by the baggage of previous failures.
"With young players comes that freedom", said Parker. "They are new to it. New players coming in are fresh to it and they've not experienced the disappointments."