Casey Stoney believes England’s 3-0 defeat to Germany on Sunday could be a blessing in disguise.
The Arsenal defender was not in the squad due to injury, but was invited by head coach Mark Sampson to stay at the team hotel the night before the game.
England were hit by three first-half hammer blows – an own goal from Alex Scott and a brace from Germany captain Celia Sasic.
England Women 0-3 Germany
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Sunday 23 November
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
But the former England skipper reckons the Three Lions will learn some harsh lessons from this loss, which was played out in front of a record 45,619 crowd, ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
“The scoreline might have taken the sheen off the occasion but it could turn out to be the best result possible as the team counts down to next summer's World Cup in Canada,” Stoney said in her latest BBC column.
“Coming through qualification with a 100 per cent record was an amazing achievement but there was a danger it could have given us a false sense of security and in the first half perhaps you could sense that. That won't be the case anymore.
“Germany showed why they are European champions and will be one of the favourites for the World Cup. Now we have to try to match that. They were ruthless in attack, physically stronger and showed a lot more intelligence.
“For the younger players in our team it was a first taste of playing against a footballing superpower on the big stage and they found out it is a lot different to playing Ukraine or even Sweden in front of a small crowd.
“Although we improved in the second half, the game was over by half-time but the important factor is that everyone will learn from this performance. Having crashed out of the 2013 European Championship without winning a game, it was a harsh reminder of the standards we must reach.”