When Australia and the Barbarians arrive at Twickenham tomorrow, they may find tumbleweed rolling across the pitch, like a scene from a spaghetti western where a rogue force has just come through and levelled some frontier town.
It will take more than an exhibition match involving the game's most famous invitational side to lift the gloom over English rugby. But at least the Barbarians will try.
For those English supporters who have reached their tether's end, an intriguing teaser will be on show in Sam Tomkins, the Wigan Warriors rugby league player, on the Baa Baas wing.
The timing of his one-off appearance could be bad news for the 15-man game, coming as it does at the end of a week where union's image has been tarnished by the scathing leaked report into the World Cup shambles.
Tomkins is the most exciting English player in either code. If he sees enough ball tomorrow, the supporters might wonder why they have been wasting their time with union at all when such talent thrives in the rival code.
England have not had such an able attacker in union since Jason Robinson retired. As a free-running Wigan player with a wicked side-step, who made his mark while still in his teens, the parallels are obvious.
Tomkins would be made very rich if he followed Robinson's path into the XVs game, but given the state of the union, why would he even consider moving?