But the methods which had seen him reach the semi-finals of every major tournament appeared to have run their course in Russian Federation.
Additionally, the team that finishes runner-up will have an extra 24 hours to prepare for its next match - a key factor to consider midway through a lengthy tournament that offers little time off between games. In the big picture though it may do England no harm at all.
England made eight changes from the team who crushed Panama 6-1 while Belgium coach Roberto Martinez - who said pre-match that winning was not the priority - went one better, making nine alterations from the side who cruised to victory over Tunisia.
Opposite number Roberto Martinez is expected to make wholesale changes to his team, with Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku nearly certain to miss out after picking up an ankle knock in Belgium´s 5-2 win over Tunisia.
Mixing up the teams does not necessarily hand their opponents the upper hand though.
"This tournament is about our current players and their opportunity to create history".
Asked if he felt fortunate to be in this position, Southgate said: "Yes, hugely".
Did they want to lose?
Southgate hinted that he would make some changes to his starting 11 but did not go into specifics.
"I hope now to keep going".
In all these discussions, there is a danger of assuming progression from the Round of 16 before a ball has been kicked in anger.
The loss was the first in over a year for England, ending a 12-match unbeaten run, and set up a last 16 tie with a risky Colombia side while Group G winners Belgium face Japan.More news: Trump’s tweets have added $10 to oil prices, Iran’s OPEC boss says
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While analysing Belgium's win against England, Neville said, as quoted by Skysports.com: "That is the reality check".
The legendary footballer will support England at the 2018 world Cup.
"I think quarter final has got to be a minimum then after that you never know".
"On the pitch, we were just thinking of having fun", said 21-year-old attacking midfielder Youri Tielemans, who forced England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford into an excellent save with a long-range effort in the first half.
Gareth Southgate's England by contrast face a hard task in the next round against Colombia but are in the half of the draw in which the only other former champions are Spain.
Others - perhaps with more hands-on experience in such matters - placed greater emphasis on maintaining momentum.
Fellow City players Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker complete a healthy contingent of Premier League champions in England's squad and Stones said Gareth Southgate's men are looking forward to being tested against some of the world's best. Japan had four yellow cards in its three group matches while Senegal had six. With England and Belgium locked on points and the same goal difference, fair play would decide who finished top if the game finished in a draw. Is destiny on England's side?
Both teams had advanced to the round of 16 before the match.
"We want to win football matches so we're not happy to come away being beaten".
Tunisia won this consolation game against Panama.
"We want to see every England fan coming over, especially now we are playing well".
However, the second half was a much more exciting affair and neither side could be accused of not trying to win. "Maybe we'll see him but our attention is on this generation of players".