Andros Townsend answered his critics with a quite superb goal that saw England claim a 1-1 draw against Italy and extend their unbeaten run to nine matches following a mixed performance in Turin.
Tottenham winger Townsend's presence in Roy Hodgson's latest squad was rightfully queried by many given his lack of impact at White Hart Lane over recent months, yet he took his chance to impress at the Juventus Stadium with a brilliant second-half strike that cancelled out Graziano Pelle's opener.
England, who were facing Italy for the first time since their 2-1 defeat at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, were extremely lacklustre in the first half but improved significantly after the break following the introductions of Michael Carrick, Townsend and Everton's Ross Barkley.
The opening exchanges were notable for a lack of quality or tempo and neither goalkeeper was unduly tested until Joe Hart was forced to push a hopeful 20-yard strike from Lazio midfielder Marco Parolo over the crossbar.
Phil Jagielka, starting alongside Chris Smalling in the heart of defence, had to be alert to to clear from inside his own goalmouth after the tricky Matteo Darmian had shown great pace to beat the disappointing Nathaniel Clyne and cross into the box.
England struggled to find any sort of fluency or width having reverted to a diamond system, but did strike the woodwork in the 21st minute when Fabian Delph sent a high, looping cross to the back post.
Harry Kane's impressive knockdown was cleared away from a lurking Theo Walcott before he could provide a decisive finishing touch and Wayne Rooney's follow-up shot was then deflected on to the crossbar.
Italy, meanwhile, were far more imposing in midfield and took the lead shorty before the half-hour mark.
Phil Jones was left utterly embarrassed by Giorgio Chiellini when the centre-back, not exactly renowned for his speed or ability to bamboozle fellow defenders, easily drifted past him before floating in an enticing cross that was turned home by the head of Pelle.
Chiellini himself had come close to connecting with a corner after evading his marker a few seconds before providing that assist, and England's lack of awareness was evident once again as they failed to regroup defensively and left Southampton striker Pelle all alone to pick his spot beyond the despairing dive of Hart.
Hodgson promised to experiment with lesser-used fringe players in this friendly following the impressive 4-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Lithuania, and experiment he did with Jones deployed in a midfield role that he never appeared particularly comfortable with, even given the absence of pass master Andrea Pirlo and Juventus teammate Claudio Marchisio.
An injury sustained by Smalling in the final throws of a disappointing first half resulted in Carrick entering the fray, with Jones reverting to centre-back as Hodgson quickly abandoned his initial thought process and sought to challenge Italy's dominance in the middle.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead shortly after the break when Darmian, so impressive against England when the Azzurri battled to a hard-fought victory in the searing heat of Manaus, controlled a cross-field ball wonderfully before cutting inside Kyle Walker and feeding Eder.
Hart was brave to prevent the Brazilian-born striker from notching his second goal in as many international appearances and while Jagielka's subsequent rushed clearance was poor, Pelle could only scuff wide when it looked easier to score.
Rather predictably, the decision to introduce Carrick led to more composure in possession from England and they had chances to equalise during a sustained period of pressure when Kane saw an effort blocked by Chiellini and Kieran Gibbs hit the side netting with a tame left-footed effort that followed good interplay between Kane and Rooney outside the penalty area.
Rooney spurned a good opportunity of his own when Chiellini was caught out by a long ball from Gibbs but the captain, now just two goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton's England scoring record, could only fire straight at Gianluigi Buffon who parried comfortably.
Kane almost found Rooney again moments later with a low cross that was defended by Andrea Ranocchia but it was Townsend that finally made the breakthrough.
The 23-year-old, who became integral to England towards the latter stages of their last qualification campaign and replaced Delph with 20 minutes remaining here, showed fantastic technical quality to net his third senior goal for his country as he collected a pass from fellow substitute Ryan Mason before rifling an unstoppable shot past the helpless Buffon from distance.
Both teams had opportunities to secure victory in the closing stages, but Rooney saw an attempt saved by the legs of Buffon and Luca Antonelli could only roll the ball agonisingly wide of Hart's left-hand post after exchanging passes with Ciro Immobile.
The confident Kane, never afraid to shoot as evidenced by his impressive goal tally for the 2014/15 season to date, also looked to grab the winner after receiving possession from the impressive Barkley with seconds of the contest remaining but Buffon got down quickly to smother his snatched shot.
A draw means that both teams, each in an obvious state of transition, are yet to taste defeat since they exited the World Cup together at the group stage, although Italy boss Antonio Conte appears to remain under pressure regardless due to an increasingly prickly relationship with supporters and senior figures at former club Juventus.