Haunting memories of a het-up, almost psychotic, Paul Gascoigne launching into a suicidal and illogical challenge at the midriff of Gary Charles in the 1991 FA Cup final between Tottenham and Nottingham Forest resurfaced on Wednesday when England met Ukraine in a 2010 World Cup qualifier.
Wayne Rooney, England's best player on the night, mirrored Gazza's career-defining moment of madness with an equally late and cynical tackle on Oleksandr Aliyev.
How and why the Manchester United firebrand was spared an early bath would make for a good episode of 'The X Files'.
Part of the problem is that Rooney, no longer a boy at 23, is publicly wrapped in cotton wool by his club manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, whose argument that his aggression is arguably his best attribute is as predictable as it is nonsensical.
What Ferguson says to Rooney in private is of course a different matter, although eight yellow cards and one red – against Fulham for a show of playground petulance – in all competitions already this season would suggest it goes in one ear and out of the other.
He was lucky to escape unpunished against Aalborg in the Champions League for two poor challenges and backed up his assertion that he "hates" Liverpool with arguably his worst game in United colours in the 4-1 drubbing by Rafa Benitez's men recently.
Paul Parker, who played for United for six years and won 19 England caps, playing in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against Germany, hit the nail on the head when he said: "It frustrates me to hear his team-mates and even his manager say that that is the way he is and that you cannot take away his passion or try to change him. If you've got a wayward child, you shouldn't just accept it. You have to try to get them to control themselves and relax."
The fact that even Fabio Capello sought to justify Rooney's challenge was even more surprising when the harsh truth is that if he does not learn to tame the red mist he risks becoming an accident waiting to happen in tournament football.