The FA would have envisioned the build-up to their 1,000th international as a chance to celebrate all that has been great in the rich history of the England national team, but instead it is two players who will very much be part of the future that have stolen the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Few stories capture the attention like a public fallout between teammates, and Gareth Southgate's decision to drop Raheem Sterling - arguably England's best player since the 2018 World Cup - after a bust-up with Joe Gomez quickly diverted all of the focus away from the landmark nature of Thursday's match.
Making the situation public has drawn varying reactions from former players, but Southgate was firm in his insistence that club rivalries will not spill over onto the international stage, regardless of whether a highly-charged title battle between Liverpool and Manchester City took place just a day before the squad met up.
It is that abolition of club cliques which was widely credited with helping England make it further at the last World Cup than the so-called 'Golden Generation' ever managed, and all involved in the bust-up are seemingly keen to move on.
Certainly, a win on Thursday night would help to put the unsavoury incident firmly in the past, although England only need a point from their final two qualifiers to guarantee their place at Euro 2020, the final of which takes place at Wembley.
The Three Lions enjoy a three-point lead at the top of Group A following last month's 6-0 drubbing of Bulgaria, responding in the best possible way to the vile racist abuse they received from a section of the home crowd in Sofia.
England's players will not have forgotten that there were allegations of racist abuse in the reverse fixture against Montenegro too, and another convincing triumph over a team they beat 5-1 in Podgorica in March will hopefully further help to silence those responsible for such disgraceful behaviour.
Southgate's side have lost twice since then, including their first qualifying defeat of any kind for a decade against Czech Republic last month, but you have to go back even further - to the infamous 2007 loss to Croatia - for England's last qualifying defeat on home soil, winning each of the last 17 such matches.
Thursday's hosts have been particularly free-scoring of late too, netting five or more goals in four different matches already this year - their joint-highest ever tally for a calendar year alongside 1937 and 1908, and the same number as they had managed in the last six calendar years combined before 2019.
Things look bleak for a Montenegro side who have failed to win any of their seven qualifiers so far in this campaign, then, leaving them joint-bottom with Bulgaria on just three points.
Indeed, Faruk Hadzibegic's side have failed to even score in any of their last four competitive outings and have just three goals from their seven Group A games so far while conceding 15 at the other end.
Thursday will be Montenegro's final match of the qualifying campaign, with the prospect of making Euro 2020 long since over for the world's 61st-best team - 57 places below England in the latest FIFA rankings.
The fact that they took the lead in the reverse fixture means that England cannot write them off completely before this contest, but the visitors' most notable contribution to the match may well simply be being the 'other team' in England's 1,000th game.
England qualifying form: WWWWLW
England form (all competitions): LWWWLW
Montenegro qualifying form: LDLLDL
Montenegro form (all competitions): DLWLDL
The absence of Sterling is the headline team news after he was involved in a physical altercation with Gomez - something which appears to have been responsible for the Liverpool defender sporting a large scratch under his eye in training on Tuesday.
Captain Kane has been directly involved in 15 goals from his last 10 games for England, scoring nine times and providing six assists, including three in Bulgaria last time out.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, John Stones and James Maddison have all been handed recalls to the squad, the latter of whom could make his debut after pulling out of the last squad through illness and then being spotted in a casino during the defeat to Czech Republic.
England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Maguire, Mings, Chilwell; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Winks, Maddison; Sancho, Kane, Rashford
Montenegro possible starting lineup:
Petkovic; Vesovic, Lagator, Simic, Bulatovic; Boljevic, Vukcevic, Hocko, Jovovic; Mugosa, Beciraj
We say: England 5-0 Montenegro
England should win this game comfortably, with the main question being how many goals they will score. A clean sheet looks likely given Montenegro's poor goalscoring form themselves, and we expect the hosts' recent habit of going on to get a hatful to continue here.
body check tags ::