On Saturday, there will be an impeccably observed minute of silence at Wembley in memory of the country's war dead. What a shame there were not a few thousand minutes of dignified silence prior to that.
There has been so much misplaced poppy rage, posturing and grandstanding throughout the week, there have been times when a symbol of loss and solemn regret has almost been reduced to a badge of crass one-upmanship.
Flower power: Ashley Cole is expected to wear a boot embroidered with a poppy against Spain today
When FIFA declined to allow a poppy to be worn on the England shirt on the understandable basis it would set an awkward global precedent, the indignation whipped up by the media, Football Association, Prime Minister and even a prince, reduced a neutral, logical stance to a mess of compromise and sloganeering.
There were times when the plot was lost quite spectacularly. As the issue ran out of control, one headline cried: 'Let's mock Sepp Blatter and show some poppy power', as if the significance of this precious red flower at Wembley was really about thumbing our noses at a football official in Switzerland.
Another columnist decided he was embarrassed to be English because of the poppy dispute and shackled this to a blinkered rant about football hooliganism, an argument as dated and out of touch as the writer himself.
Throughout , the actual meaning of the poppy itself was being trampled underfoot.
But let us start at the beginning. If someone can explain to me why, after all this time, we suddenly need to have poppies on an England shirt, I'd be very grateful.
In the last 10 years, England have played nine matches close to the November 11 Day of Remembrance without wearing poppies on the shirt or any of this year's fuss.
England started playing internationals in 1872. The poppy was introduced to commemorate the British soldiers lost during wartime in 1921, after the tribute was adopted from America via France.
So England have gone 90 long years without believing it is absolutely essential to the liberty of the nation to embroider a poppy on the jersey - and yet we were being told this week that the collective rite of remembrance could not take place without it.
Was it a slow news week? Did Prime Minister David Cameron see a populist bandwagon he could hitch a handy ride on? Were the English football authorities happy to fuel this story to knock the John Terry race row off the front and back pages?
Either way, the saga cheapened the meaning of the poppy. Slapping it on a jersey reduces it to the level of a Nike tick or the adidas three stripes.
As if to prove the point, the Prime Minister had no sooner thumped a dispatch box in the House, than a major sports firm scurried to claim a piece of the action.
Nike rushed out news that a number of England footballers would appear at Wembley today with a poppy sewn into their variously coloured boots . Naturally, the poppy was handily positioned next to the manufacturer's very prominent swoosh logo and close to the individual player's name.
Who knows, maybe if they are lucky, the TV cameras might catch them in a long, lingering close-up during the game itself and provide some free advertising? The newspapers did. Not that that was the intention, oh no. It was a sincere tribute to the fallen. Newspapers place poppies on the front page for the same reason newsreaders wear the buttonhole - as a mark of corporate respect.
There are plenty of opportunities for England to make those same collective acknowledgments at Wembley without trotting out in some sponsored insincerity.
The most famous football matches of all time were not World Cup finals, or glittering Champions League affairs. They took place on the battlefield on Christmas Day in 1914 when an unofficial ceasefire spread along the Western Front during the First World War.
German and British soldiers put down their weapons, exchanged gifts and then held impromptu football games in 'No Man's Land'. That is what the spirit of the game should be about. Once the anthems are done, the politics and the nationalism get shoved aside for a time and the contest itself takes over.
FIFA had good reason to refuse England's request to wear poppies on their shirts. It is because nations across the globe have their own war dead. They too count the human cost of conflict, having lost loved ones they value and miss.
As regular readers of this page will testify, I rarely have a word to say in support of FIFA, but on this issue they were right. They had no need to compromise by allowing a poppy on the armband.
Now there is nothing to stop everyone paying tribute in a similar fashion. When Argentina face England they might decide to wear a symbol commemorating the soldiers lost in the Battle for the Malvinas - or the Falkland Islands, as we call them.
Team effort: England's manager Fabio Capello leads his poppy-clad players out on to the pitch at Wembley on Friday
If you are prepared to accept that principle, then I have no argument with you. But I suspect that a large proportion of those who expressed their 'outrage' over England's poppy ban might be equally indignant about the idea of Britain's past foes doing the same.
Beyond that, if North Korea wanted to mark their match against South Korea - a country they are still technically at war with - by brandishing tributes to their own casualties of conflict they can now cite England as a precedent.
Israel and Palestine might wish to do something similar, whatever the sensitivities. Iraq could come up with a symbol of remembrance to all those killed by the western alliance of predominantly American and British troops. Or when India and Pakistan face one another, or the former republics of Yugoslavia meet . . . the list goes on.
Since the Second World War there have been 100 or so large-scale conflicts between nations. We might not regard the poppy on an England shirt as a political symbol, but there are plenty of countries that certainly would - and will in the years ahead too.
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson blundered into the debate with a letter to FIFA where he claimed: 'Wearing your poppy is a display of national pride, like wearing your country's football shirt', neatly demonstrating why FIFA have a valid point about keeping jerseys free of symbols.
There is no doubt that the poppy is a wonderful fund-raising tool. I have sold them for The Royal British Legion in Richmond-upon-Thames, I will be wearing mine at Wembley today and I have nothing but respect for the work of the magnificent charity.
And, unsurprisingly, during this whole unseemly squabble, the Legion provided the most dignified perspective of all.
The director general of the Legion, Chris Simpkins, said: 'There are so many other ways to honour the poppy there isn't really any need to put one on a football shirt.' And so say all of us.
To that I would only add, there is no need to put one on a football boot either. Once the whistle sounds, the players should just get on with the match and leave the symbolism to one side.
As a sportswear firm would say: just do it.
So I know most people are probably tired of hearing this poppy debate, but I thought this article was very well written and sums up my feelings on the matter. Anyhow, now everything is put to bed hopefully everyone can just enjoy the match today.