England secured their first victory over Italy in 20 years with a 2-0 win at Le Tournoi de France.
Three Lions boss Glenn Hoddle opted for a starting line-up described by L’Equipe as 'chic' as he blended youth and experience together to devastating effect.
Impressive goals from Ian Wright and Paul Scholes gave England a half-time lead which Cesare Maldini's side failed to recover from to put England on top of the table after the first of three games for the four competing nations which included France and Brazil.
Manchester United midfielder Scholes was making his first international start after a substitute appearance two months earlier, and made an instant impact as his stunning and incisive 50-yard pass set up Wright to open the scoring after 20 minutes.
The Arsenal forward allowed the ball to bounce behind the Italian defence before dispatching a precise left-footed strike past a bamboozled Angelo Peruzzi.
And just as half time approached, it was time for a role reversal as Wright turned provider for his 22-year-old colleague.
Picked ahead of Alan Shearer for this game, Wright continued to give Hoddle a selection headache by proving he can pick out a pass as well as finish, when he turned the ball into the path of the onrushing Scholes to cap off a memorable full debut in Nantes.
Having seen his new system work wonders, Hoddle replaced Graeme Le Saux with Gary Neville at half time and set about successfully defending the two-goal advantage as England made the perfect start to their World Cup preparations.
Speaking after the game the England boss said: “We played with one up [Wright] and two little inside-forwards [David Beckham and Scholes] and it worked a treat.
“It takes good players to do that. We’ve worked at this system in training over the last 12 months but until now we haven’t been able to put it into a match situation.
"This is what this tournament’s all about, looking at new players, new shapes and systems.”
England: 13 Tim Flowers (Blackburn Rovers), 3 Stuart Pearce (Nottingham Forest), 15 Martin Keown (Arsenal), 5 Gareth Southgate (Aston Villa), 14 Phil Neville (Manchester United), 6 Graeme Le Saux (Blackburn Rovers), 7 David Beckham (Manchester United), 4 Paul Ince (Inter Milan), 19 Paul Scholes (Manchester United), 21 Andy Cole (Manchester United), 10 Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham Hotspur), 20 Ian Wright (Arsenal)
Substitutes: 2 Gary Neville (Manchester United) for Le Saux 46, 8 Paul Gascoigne (Glasgow Rangers) for Sheringham 79
Substitutes not used: 1 David Seaman (Arsenal), 9 Alan Shearer (Newcastle United), 11 Robert Lee (Newcastle United), 12 Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur), 16 John Scales (Liverpool), 17 David Batty (Newcastle United), 18 Lee Clark (Sunderland), 22 Nigel Martyn (Leeds United)
Italy: 1 Angelo Peruzzi, 15 Antonio Benarrivo, 2 Ciro Ferrara, 5 Fabio Cannavaro, 6 Alessandro Costacurta, 4 Dino Baggio, 8 Roberto Di Matteo, 7 Angelo Di Livio, 10 Demetrio Albertini, 11 Gianfranco Zola, 9 Pierluigi Casiraghi
Substitutes: 18 Diego Fuser for Di Matteo 17, 14 Alessandro Nesta for Ferrara 46, 17 Giampiero Maini for Di Livio 46
Substitutes not used: 12 Gianluca Pagliuca, 3 Paolo Maldini, 13 Christian Panucci, 15 Antonio Benarrivo, 16 Stefano Torrisi, 19 Christian Vieri, 20 Alessandro Del Piero, 21 Filippo Inzaghi, 22 Enrico Chiesa, 23 Attilio Lombardo