England shrugged off recent criticisms and finished top of their World Cup qualifying group with a vibrant display to beat Poland at Old Trafford.
Michael Owen, captain in the absence of David Beckham, skilfully diverted in a Joe Cole shot to put England ahead.
Tomasz Frankowski's volleyed equaliser for Poland flattered the visitors and their keeper Artur Boruc twice saved from Owen to keep his side level.
But Owen set up Frank Lampard to volley in and give England a deserved win.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's side started the match with the freedom of knowing they had already qualified for the 2006 World Cup and caused some early moments of panic for Poland.
A Lampard free-kick, meant as a cross, was tipped over the bar by back-tracking Poland keeper Boruc and a forceful Wayne Rooney run epitomised a determined England team.
The home side dominated possession with quality passing and movement, which proved too difficult for Poland to handle.
Ledley King powered an 18-yard strike over, Lampard went close with a header while Rooney was agonisingly just high with a 25-yard shot.
Cole was similarly close with an effort from the edge of the Poland area as England showed little sign of the lack of confidence from recent games.
Eriksson's players were also making light of missing some of their star names with Shaun Wright-Phillips and King, in for Beckham and Steven Gerrard respectively, making their presence felt.
Owen deservedly put England in front with his 22nd goal in competitive matches - his 33rd overall - for the national team which equalled Gary Lineker's record.
Rooney, 19, was an influential figure on his return for England
But the home side made the mistake of relaxing momentarily and Poland levelled with their first noteworthy attack of the game when Frankowski volleyed in at the far post on the stroke of half-time.
England continued to attack after the break and Rooney skied a snapshot from close range after Rio Ferdinand headed back a Lampard corner.
Owen was denied a second when Boruc saved instinctively as England pressed for the victory to leapfrog Poland and finish top of Group Six.
They duly did so when Lampard clinically finished off an England counter-attack with his far post strike 10 minutes from time.
England: Robinson, Young, Ferdinand, Terry, Carragher, Wright-Phillips (Crouch 67), King, Lampard, Cole (Smith 87), Rooney, Owen (Jenas 84).
Subs Not Used: Neville, Kirkland, Bent, Defoe.
Goals: Owen 44, Lampard 80.
Poland: Boruc, Jop, Baszczynski, Bak, Zewlakow, Sobolewski (Radomski 79), Smolarek (Krzynowek 46), Lewandowski, Kosowski, Zurawski (Frankowski 39), Rasiak.
Subs Not Used: Kowalewski, Rzasa, Mila, Klos.
Booked: Baszczynski, Sobolewski.
Goals: Frankowski 45.