Yes, this victory was a scrappy, scrambling affair, clinched just a few minutes from time when a band of late replacements sent on by head coach Eddie Jones conjured their only try of the game for Ben Te’o.
But no team, not even the All Blacks, triumph with dazzling style and panache in every game.
Sometimes you just have to find a way to win when plans go awry, nerves conquer nous, and opponents like France play superior rugby.
That’s what the really good teams in sport do – they win against the odds, they win when injuries have ravaged their ideal line-up, and they keep on winning.
Amid the inevitable inquests into England’s faults here at Twickenham yesterday evening, and there were many, let’s not forget to praise an immense achievement by Jones’s team.
Fifteen consecutive wins is unique for England; and bettered only by New Zealand anywhere anytime.
Eddie Jones' side created history in beating France
The result also allows them to dream of retaining the Six Nations crown and maybe even a repeat Grand Slam. This is certainly a side that has forgotten how to lose, and their enviable strength in depth is formidable.
What England did discover with a thuddering jolt was that reputation, previous form and the mind games of head coaches all count for nothing the moment a new Six Nations championship begins in the chill of winter.
Control and calm were conspicuous by their absence as France dominated the opening half at Twickenham, the visitors superior up front and running the ball with glimpses of their traditional scintillating style.
After just 20 minutes the French were 9-3 ahead thanks to three penalties from the left boot of Camille Lopez, his accurate kicking punishing the serial indiscipline of England’s players.
It might have been even worse. England winger Jonny May had 10 minutes in the sin bin for a tackle on Gael Fickou that took his opponent’s leg above the horizontal.
Some observers thought it a harsh call, but rugby union’s focus on increased safety for players is to be welcomed, and better to be too strong than too weak in this area.
England’s problems were symbolised perhaps by one curiously hopeless line-out where Dylan Hartley’s throw hit intended receiver Courtney Lawes on the back of his shoulder as he turned away from the ball.
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England recorded their 15th consecutive win
This was far removed from the team that has cut a swathe through international rugby under the command of Jones in the past 12 months. He looked discomforted sitting up in the stands, but at least he could deliver a half-time lecture with the scores level at 9-9.
Lopez, to everyone’s surprise, missed with another penalty attempt. Owen Farrell kicked a couple for England and then winger Elliot Daly landed a long-range effort from the halfway line to cheer up a muted crowd.
Daly had made one super saving tackle to deny French winger Noa Nakaitaci a try. In contrast, England did not once threaten the France line before the break.
They couldn’t be as woeful in the second half, could they?
Of course they couldn’t, although Farrell wasted one opportunity when his penalty struck an upright.
Moments later Daly was stopped inches out from scoring a try in the corner as England finally worked some space for a running break.
For a spell there was dominance for Jones’s men. They were sharper all round, with swift passing, incisive sprints and improved tackling.
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France led for much of the second half until Ben Te'o put England ahead late on
Farrell put England ahead for the first time in the match in the 54th minute with another penalty, but they couldn’t capitalise on this period.
Instead, it was France who rumbled back with a try on the hour that was reward for a sustained spell of pressure inspired by the driving forward power of the irrepressible Louis Picamoles, named man of the match.
England’s tackles were increasingly desperate and eventually substitute Rabah Slimani broke through for a try converted by Lopez.
You could feel the desperation among the 80,000 crowd as well. The clock ticked on, and Jones sent on a brigade of replacements.
They regained the lead in the 71st minute with a magnificent try finished off with a surge of power from sub Te’o after fine work by Danny Care, another of the latecomers. There was a conversion from Farrell to put England 19-16 ahead; a slim advantage to defend.
Panic might have set in for past England sides, but this one held its nerve as France tired. They crashed into every last tackle like demons and they made it to history as the crowd launched into the Sweet Chariot anthem.
But only just.
Mike Brown: England's most capped full back did his best to attack in open play and came up with a couple of smart tackles 6
Jonny May: Unlucky to be yellow carded in the first half for a borderline dangerous tackle but made some useful metres with the ball in hand 6
Jonathan Joseph: Didn't get to see much of the ball., his kicking was questionable but his tackling was very much a bonus 5
Owen Farrell: Nearly faultless with his kicking and did his best to get England onto the front foot in the second half 6
Elliott Daly: Selected ahead of Jack Nowell saved a certain Nakaitaci try and came within a toe of scoring a try in the second half 6
George Ford: Saw very little of him in the first half probably one of his quietest displays in a England shirt will need to get better 5
Ben Youngs: Wasn't able to get a platform in the first half but made some useful yards before being replaced by Care 6
Joe Marler: Came under pressure at the scrum from a bulky French front row but launched himself into some key tackles 7
Dylan Hartley: The captain was playing first game in two months after his latest suspension and was understandably rusty but will be better for the 55 minutes under his belt. 5
Dan Cole: Put in a real shift at the coal face playing the full 80 minutes coping well with a powerful French pack 6
Eddie Jones sent on a host of replacements late on that helped England in a scrappy win
Joe Launchbury: Did his best to carry the ball before being replaced after England had taken a battering in the forwards 6
Courtney Lawes: Probably England's most impressive forward all around the park in what was a very dominant performance 7
Maro Itoje: Played out of position in the back row and it showed as he failed to hit his usual standard of performance 5
Tom Wood: The Northampton Saints flanker played on the edge giving away three costly penalties in the first half an hour. 5
Nathan Hughes: Still very much an international rookie and it showed for long periods but he grew into the game the longer it went on 5
Jamie George for Hartley (55 mins) Exceptional for Saracens this season and carried that form over for England 6
Matt Mullan for Marler (65 mins) Helped to bring some stability to the England scrum when it was needed in the second half 5
Kyle Sinckler: Not Used
Teimana Harrison: Not Used
James Haskell for Launchbury (63 mins) England needed his energy after being hit up front and he brought that too the party 6
Danny Care for Youngs (65 mins) Did his best to get England quick ruck ball to get his side playing as they chased the win 6
Ben Te'o for Ford (68 mins) England's super sub was in the right place at the right time for the match winning try 6
Jack Nowell for Joseph (68 mins) Will be pushing for a place in the starting line up after getting some match time under his belt 5