Steven Gerrard admits the pain of defeat to Croatia in 2007 should spur England on against Poland on Tuesday night.
Back then England only needed a draw at Wembley to confirm their place in Euro 2008 against a team that had already qualified - but lost 3-2.
Coach Steve McClaren took the brave decision to select keeper Scott Carson for his first competitive international, a move that backfired almost instantly as the keeper let Nico Kranjcar's long-range shot slip under him.
Croatia were two ahead before England mounted a spectacular fightback, Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch scoring the goals that looked certain to claim the draw required.
But substitute Mladen Petric grabbed the winner 13 minutes from time, as England were hit on the break chasing a third goal they did not need.
Asked what memories will inspire him in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against the Poles, England captain Gerrard said: "Yeah, a big massive picture of the Croatia game in 2007.
"It's a memory I'll have to take to the grave with me. One of the lowest moments of my international journey. It is one of those memories that keeps coming back and coming back. It wasn't about nerves. We under-performed."
Gerrard says he has no Churchillian speech prepared for Tuesday, when England must win to guarantee a place in Brazil next year or else face a two-legged play-off.
"Everyone knows I'm not the most vocal captain. I won't be roaring and bawling," he said.
"But I have already spoken to the lads about that feeling. I'd never try to scare a young lad but it's important they are aware what's at stake.
"We need to seize this moment. We want to look back at this with fond memories and with a smile rather than the way I do about (Euro) 2008."
"I'd be the proudest man in the country if we get the win we're after. It would be a big personal achievement for me to say I was the real captain through a campaign and led the lads to Brazil. I would be delighted.
"The emergence of some really bright young players has strengthened the squad. The manager could have put two teams out against Montenegro.
"But I do remember Croatia. When we got the equaliser that night I thought we'd go on and win.
"It just shows that although everyone fancies us to win this game anything can happen. We have to be prepared for that."