Love it or hate it, the international break returned this week with teams from all over the world keen to gauge their progress ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
England looked comfortable as Gareth Southgate tested a new formation during his side's 1-0 victory over Netherlands, while Bert van Marwijk suffered a nightmarish start to life as Australia boss with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Norway.
Elsewhere, Argentina were without the brilliance of one Lionel Messi as they went head to head with Italy at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, while Didier Deschamps resumed his tough task of deciding which of France's embarrassment of riches will make the cut for Russia as Les Bleus faced off with Colombia.
Here, Goal looks at the biggest winners and losers from Friday's fixtures.
Southgate has tried out various formations and tactics in his time as England's boss and, while results have been satisfactory, the Three Lions haven't always played with confidence or fluidity.
His side looked to be making progress in their 1-0 win over Ronald Koeman's Netherlands, however, with a three-man backline of Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker looking comfortable on the ball throughout – even goalkeeper Jordan Pickford looked at ease with the ball at his feet.
Maguire had replaced Joe Gomez – who picked up an injury – after ten minutes, while Kyle Walker never really looked out of place despite being a natural full-back.
Pep Guardiola may be to thank in part for England's new-found courage on the ball, but the reasons will matter little to fans as long as their country continues to play with boldness and give a good account of themselves in Russia.
Mohamed Salah & Cristiano Ronaldo
Salah's exploits at club level this season are well documented - with some even going so far as comparing the Liverpool star to Barcelona's favourite Argentine - and the Egypt international kept up his scoring form against European champions Portugal on Friday.
And, while fans can look forward to the tricky forward's form continuing at national level once the summer rolls around, they were reminded that they will also be treated to the superhuman antics of one Cristiano Ronaldo, who proved once again that he can single-handedly drag teams to victory.
Despite being 1-0 down after 92 minutes, the Seleccao captain found the net twice in injury time to climb to third in the list of all-time international top scorers, seal victory for his country and show that it's not over till it's over when CR7 is involved.
No one wants to see a World Cup without the world's most expensive player in top form, but if Neymar's recovery from a broken metatarsal proves a problem then Brazil might not be as worried as people may have thought.
The Selecao travelled without their star name to face the tournament hosts on Friday and dealt with their opponents with ease.
Goals from Joao Miranda, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho went unanswered across 90 minutes, leaving Russia with work to do and fans wondering whether Brazil should perhaps still be considered amongst the favourites even if their crown jewel isn't at 100 per cent.
Italy’s continued exclusion of Mario Balotelli is scandalous, but the in-form striker can at least belly-laugh his way back to work with Nice after yet another goalless showing from the Azzurri.
Perhaps in the best form of his life, the 27-year-old is hoping to seal himself a high-profile move this summer after reviving his career in Ligue 1, and 14 goals in 21 outings in France's top flight will understandably have some of the bigger sides taking notice as he plots his next step.
He'll have plenty of time to make the right choice too – he won't be wasting his time watching a toothless Italy side embarrass themselves further in Russia.
Van Marwijk & Australia
The Socceroos are running the risk of letting all their hard work go to waste after navigating a nerve-wracking play-off only to be thumped 4-1 at the hands of Norway.
Ange Postecoglu's decision to resign from his post following qualification saw Van Marwijk – a man who led Netherlands to the final in 2010 – take the job, although the Dutchman clearly has his work cut out for him if he is to see Australia make it through a group containing France, Peru and Denmark.
Brazil may have coped well without Neymar, but an Argentina side without Lionel Messi are an entirely different prospect altogether.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to build a team that will maximise the efficiency of one of football's all-time greats, but it never hurts to have a well-rehearsed Plan B.
The Albiceleste may have eventually overcome a poor Italy side 2-0 in a drab encounter in Manchester, but it took 75 minutes of disjointed football before the deadlock was broken and highlighted a need for team spirit and cohesion.
The 'get the ball to Messi' tactic doesn't work if he's not on the pitch - who knows what could happen between now and June?
Didier Deschamps & France
Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele, Pogba, Kante, Umtiti, Varane... just a few of the massive names Deschamps has at his disposal, so just how did Les Bleus manage to throw away a 2-0 lead on home soil?
Credit where it's due to Colombia, and specifically James Rodriguez for his pair of assists, but Deschamps' lengthy list of stars will mean little if the Euro 2016 runners up can't summon the grit to see out a game.
France fell to pieces as the South American side rallied to an eventual victory, proving yet again that even the biggest names in the business can capitulate without continuous concentration and team-work.
And, with a poor Australia side up next, it may be that the only thing France learn from the international break is a lesson as rudimentary as 'never underestimate your opponents'.