Gareth Barry knows England will need to be at the very top of their game if they are to compete alongside Spain and Brazil for World Cup glory.
Barry is the only regular member of Fabio Capello's starting XI to have featured in both friendlies against the reigning European champions and the five-time World Cup winners in the past 14 months.
England suffered defeats on both occasions, going down 2-0 to Spain in Seville in February 2009 before suffering a 1-0 loss to Brazil in Qatar last November, albeit with much-changed teams on show on both occasions.
Manchester City midfielder Barry admitted he was taken aback by Spain's quality, while Brazil's style of play also came as something of a surprise.
"The two friendlies were very different, apart from the fact we didn't have our strongest teams out in either of them," Barry told the Daily Express.
"I was shocked at Spain, shocked at how well they pass the ball and the level they really are at. If we are to beat teams like that we have to be on top of our game.
"When you talk about Brazil, you generally talk about their flair and attacking ability, but playing in the game I was thinking the complete opposite - how solid they were at the back and even in midfield.
"I was expecting wave after wave of attacks, but we had our share of the ball and just struggled to break them down, which was a bit of a surprise.
"You can see why they're spoken about as two of the favourites to win the World Cup. On our day, we are not far behind and if we can field our best team against them then both are beatable."
The World Cup will not be Barry's first experience of a major international tournament, as he was selected as part of Kevin Keegan's squad for the ill-fated Euro 2000 tournament.
And he hopes that he and his room-mate of a decade ago, Liverpool skipper and fellow midfielder Steven Gerrard, will enjoy a more productive time on the field this summer.
"That tournament was really a bit of a blur for me," Barry added. "I had just finished my first season at Aston Villa and all of a sudden I made my debut for England and got selected to go to a major championship.
"I didn't take part in any of the games, but the experience of being there helped me so much. There were big characters in the dressing room - the likes of Alan Shearer, Tony Adams and Paul Ince.
"To spend three to four weeks living with them and training with them, it certainly prepares you for what you are going to experience later in your career.
"By being in a dressing room with someone like Adams, you got an insight into what playing for England means. You could see the passion and how desperate they all were to do well. That is something that you keep with you.
"I was just a young kid and so was Steven Gerrard. Our rooms were next to each other and we had a joint living room.
"It was a 24-7 relationship between us. He got homesick a bit because it was probably the first time he had been away from his family, whereas I'd left mine at 16. By the end, we were like a married couple!"