The talk was of history at the national stadium, of England's more celebrated tussles with the Poles with mentions of Jan Tomaszewski, the goalkeeper dubbed a circus clown by Brian Clough, never far away. Roy Hodgson sat through them all, musing a while on his own memories of 1973 and all that crushing disappointment, before his focus clicked back in.
"I don't ever dismiss history but, for us, the bottom line is working for tomorrow," he said. "It's about what we're trying to build. A knowledge of history gives you perspective, but it doesn't help you win football matches."
England are a team moving on with very little time even for fond reflection. Hodgson's team will attempt to impose themselves on Group H on Tuesday evening, making up for a missed opportunity against Ukraine back at Wembley last month and, away from the contrasting five-goal thrashing of the section's also-rans San Marino, injecting real conviction into their qualification campaign.
Victory could also potentially demoralise the Poles even at this early stage on the road to Brazil, knocking another of the contenders for top place off their early stride. Hodgson can take encouragement from an unbeaten 10-game tenure to date, glossing over that Euro 2012 penalty shootout defeat by Italy. Yet departing Warsaw victorious would feel significant.
It is a recognition of the awkward task ahead that Hodgson is inclined to resort to experience in selection despite the optimism generated by his clutch of bright young things. The Poles may cling to those ties 39 years ago because they stand out amid regular frustration against the English – they have won only once in 17 collisions between the countries – but they will fly at the visitors on Tuesday night.
"We'll face a very highly motivated team, backed by a very vocal and enthusiastic support, because we are a scalp," said Hodgson. "England have always been a scalp. Poland will be rubbing their hands with glee at this game, given that this is a match that, if they can win it, would be a real feather in their cap. We have to make sure we're not the victims of that.
"It's going to be a very tough game, a test for us. You're aware of the fact that when you're playing against your biggest rivals in the group, it adds that bit of spice. It'll be a real game – rather than 95 minutes of attack against defence, as it was on Friday against San Marino – because Poland will think they can play well enough to cause us problems and win.
"Sometimes, away from home, matches are more open, with teams having to come at you and leaving themselves more open. So it's a game that would be tremendous to win and, if we do, it would make it a very good start to our qualifying campaign."
It may be an evening for older heads to show their worth. Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole will return to the side to gain their 99th caps, the latter now very aware that Leighton Baines is a viable alternative at left-back. Glen Johnson will start at right-back, the minor calf complaint picked up by Kyle Walker on Friday restricting him to a lonely jogging session while his teammates trained at the national stadium on Monday evening.
Hodgson will reveal his selection to his players only on Tuesday but he will be tempted to ask Michael Carrick to anchor midfield alongside the restored captain, Gerrard, most likely at the busy Tom Cleverley's expense, with James Milner's industry employed on the flank.
The onus will be on Wayne Rooney to coax and his strike partner, possibly the more clinical Jermain Defoe rather than the rookie Danny Welbeck, to be ruthless when chances are created. The Poles are far from watertight and have only just exorcised their own demons in the newly built national stadium, their narrow friendly win over South Africa on Friday a first in the arena at the fourth attempt after their own toils at Euro 2012.
The loss of their captain, Jakub Blaszczykowski, represents a blow even if Robert Lewandowski has pedigree up front, Grzegorz Krychowiak has the ability to dominate midfield and Kamil Grosicki, of Sivasspor in Turkey, will be a potent threat on the break. They will be as disheartened as their guests that the surface at the stadium, relaid at a cost of £115,000 last week, is far from impressive and could hamper any attempts at slicker play.
Hodgson, of course, might have experienced this arena already. In June the locals had prepared themselves for an England versus Germany semi-final here, even pinning the teams' names to the back of the respective dugouts on the eve of the game despite the fact that, by then, Italy had jettisoned the English in the quarter-final on penalties back in Kiev.
This visit has come four months too late. Yet the team are developing well, the odd stodgy period in games aside, and there is promise and depth to the manager's options where, when the Azzurri were so dominating possession in Ukraine, much had appeared bleak.
The team can point to steady gains, and cling to that as reason for optimism as they confront this tie. "We're unbeaten at the moment and things are going well," said Gerrard. "We've still got a lot of improving to do, but it's going well so far."
That momentum must be maintained on Tuesday evening in an occasion that will put recent progress into better context. A real test awaits.
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