It was the captain then, that saved England's blushes and turned the Wembley jeers into cheers.
The defiant celebration from Steven Gerrard after he equalised for England said it all. This was the 30-year-old Liverpool midfielder exorcising his own World Cup demons.
It was not just Wayne Rooney who was expected to stamp his class on the 2010 showpiece but fell woefully short of expectations.
Gerrard, who was handed the armband shortly before the tournament, was also supposed to light up South Africa.
But both Scousers came home knowing that they had let their country down and tonight was the night they were supposed to get back on track.
Rooney, who was booed by the supporters that once sang his praises, cut a frustrated figure and his night was summed up when he was disallowed a goal after being put through by Gerrard.
In contrast, Gerrard, clearly relishing the freedom to not have to cover the opposition right-back - a task he was assigned in South Africa with Capello starting him from the left - was buzzing all over the pitch and was at the heart of all of England's attacking interplay.
When England went a goal down it was the rejuvenated Gerrard who took the initiative, equalising with a trademark long-range strike and then putting England 2-1 up shortly after with a solo turn and run that left three Hungarian defenders flat-footed.
With Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry both proving so ineffective as a central partnership for England, Fabio Capello must surely return Gerrard to the heart of the England midfield and this could prove to be the beginning of the end of the Chelsea man's international career.
It has long been established that Gerrard and Lampard as a midfield partnership simply does not work so will Capello be brave enough to drop Lampard if he feels that doing so may be exactly what Gerrard needs to thrive for England?
Tonight 's second half alone was compelling enough evidence. And key to getting Rooney amongst the goals again will be a fully firing Gerrard finding his fellow scouser with those through balls and neat passes.
Gerrard should only be a part of England's new era - but he remains integral to it.