• Paper planes and smartphones dominate as the Three Lions are held by the world champions at Wembley.
  • Gareth Southgate gives debuts to five players, but England fail to score at home for first time in five years.

London offered the highest class of entertainment on an early winter's evening in November. In Brixton, you could have bopped along to the electro-inspired Goldfrapp for £35. A stone's throw from the City, the literary event Citizen Festival promised to enlighten the ears in an altogether different way for a similar price.

And at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the heart of Soho, The Book of Mormon played to another capacity crowd. The show sees white shirted men travel to a far-flung corner of the world in an attempt to spread a message of hope. What follows is a satirical tale in which the characters are doomed to fail and with the audience laughing at their expense. Sound familiar?

At least in the various corners of the capital, even those dining at the impossibly pretentious Ritz or the Ivy, would have come away feeling they had value for money. Meanwhile, at Wembley Stadium 81,382 people - the highest for an international for a year - were conned into attending an event advertised as a football match. They should not so much be demanding a refund for tickets -which in some areas cost £100 - but asking for a parliamentary enquiry.

Thanks to the Video Assistant Referee [VAR] and an England team, which was without 15 front-line players for the visit of world champions Germany, the 90-minute international friendly [though it felt much longer] - which saw both teams wear poppies to pay tribute to those lost in conflicts across the world - was an insult to the memory of our ancestors who fought bravely to ensure we could enjoy such luxuries.

That the VAR system was not required is irrelevant. Its mere presence in a match in the United Kingdom means we are not far away from English football becoming awash with retrospective officiating. No referee will ever be allowed to be wrong again, just as Gary Neville has always wanted. The robots are coming.

Against a Three Lions side which boasted five debutants, Germany totally outclassed the hosts from the outset. Leroy Sane hit the bar and saw a goal-bound effort cleared off the line from Phil Jones, either side of Jordan Pickford twice denying Timo Werner. Manchester United defender Jones then immediately joined an injury list which now stands at nine, as he revealed heavy strapping on his upper left leg which will leave Jose Mourinho seething into his Friday [10 November] night Tignanello.

The first half display from Gareth Southgate's third-string was disjointed rather than insipid, but that it was illuminated by the first paper plane landing on the outfield after just 17 minutes, tells you all you need to know about the excitement on offer. Fifa had warned The Football Association over the succession of objects which landed on the pitch during the win over Slovenia, which says as much about those who govern world football as it does about its' richest association.

Tammy Abraham did have two chances to open the scoring, failing to make contact after a second minute cross by Jamie Vardy before a shot deflected off Mats Hummels bounced fortuitously wide. The Chelsea loanee was bright, but his fragile frame is not yet ready for international football. Meanwhile, that England weren't trailing by a handful at the break was a minor miracle.

The hosts were of course decked in their change strip of blue, fulfilling a contractual obligation from sponsors Nike, whose £400m partnership with all England teams has recently been extended until 2030. They run the show now. If supporters are indeed wearing those same shirts you would never have known it, as many were asked to wear white and red t-shirts to ensure a St George's Cross mosaic was displayed behind both goals, for the benefit of those watching on television. They run the show too.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, jettisoned by Chelsea to Crystal Palace in the summer, displayed similar control at the start of the second half in what was an impressive display, though he remains without a win this season. But the crowd were too preoccupied by their smartphones - using them to create a flashbulb affect across Wembley - to notice. When the cheering of the latest paper object to approach the played surface began, the nation's short attention span was summed up perfectly. These people may be able to afford to attend these games, but they are not welcome.

Even as the myriad of substitutions disrupted the game, it was by no stretch a poor spectacle, but the reaction from those in attendance highlighted the current status of international football if not globally, certainly in this country. Something has to change.

Before kick-off, Germany manager Joachim Loew had suggested England could win the World Cup next summer. But presumably he meant the hockey showcase in London. Oliver Bierhoff meanwhile is concerned by the progress made by their youth teams after victories at the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups this year.

As for the present, Bierhoff, scorer of the extra-time golden goal in the Euro '96 final at the old Wembley, need not worry. Pickford may have produced a flurry of saves and Loftus-Cheek a dazzling run or two, but Southgate will emerge from this fixture with major concerns having been forced to scratch below the surface only to find he has wafer-thin quality available.

Jesse Lingard should have won it at the end as he swept a half-volley over in the final minute of stoppage time, a chance which followed a succession of boos as England - who failed to score at home for the first time in four years - tried to play for a draw. In a friendly. At home. Brazil, who visit the home of football on Tuesday [14 November], will be licking their lips.

The overriding emotion was one of disappointment. With neither side remotely close to full strength, tickets prices extortionately high, the home team told which kit to wear by a sponsor, fans instructed to create a visual eyesore and others celebrating paper planes; while video technology prepared to undermine the officials, this match should never have taken place. It should be scrubbed from the records and have an asterisk placed alongside it. It matters little.

Or maybe this isn't football anymore. Such has been the tinkering and the manner in which the suits have spoiled the spectacle, the line drawn between the event and the sport is becoming increasingly blurred. Football is now the gargoyle of popular culture: no-one knows of its purpose and soon enough, few will care.

England vs Germany
Both teams observed a minute's silence before kick-off - the only abiding memory of the fixture. Getty Images