Six Nations 2012: Five big questions for the new-look England to answer

Five big questions for the new-look England to answer in the Six Nations

1) Will any of the World Cup old boys be missed

England have lost former captain Lewis Moody, stand-off Jonny Wilkinson and hooker Steve Thompson to retirement, while Mike Tindall, Mark Cueto and Nick Easter have all been dropped from the squad.

That's a world of experience which would come in handy at a cauldron such as Murrayfield, but these are players who, in general, were on the way out and who contributed to England's World Cup downfall.

Moody was not a specialist open-side flanker but neither are Chris Robshaw, Calum Clark or Phil Dowson, one of whom will replace him.

Old guard: Former skipper Lewis Moody has quit international rugby

Old guard: Former skipper Lewis Moody has quit international rugby

The disgraced Tindall will be replaced for the short term by Brad Barrit at inside-centre with Owen Farrell outside him. Farrell, who is likely to move to 12 when Manu Tuilagi returns from injury, has the early, mental hallmarks of a young Wilkinson.

Dylan Hartley will bring all his experience to the hooker's job and a back three of Ben Foden and two from Chris Ashton, David Strettle and Charlie Sharples will add more pace in Cueto's absence and perhaps greater finishing power, too.

Great of the past: Jonny Wilkinson is no longer part of the England set-up

Great of the past: Jonny Wilkinson is no longer part of the England set-up

Easter, playing well for Harlequins, will be missed most in the short-term at the back of the scrum. With next choice James Haskell in Japan and captain designate and open-side Tom Wood injured, the back row appears a little light.

That said, it is unfair to refer to the new England as totally inexperienced. 'The likes of Hartley and Tom Croft have 30-odd caps, while myself, Dan Cole, Tom Palmer, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs have enough now to know how it works,' insists Foden.

'Toby Flood is injured, but he has 40-odd caps, as does Charlie Hodgson, and any likely new caps have old heads on their shoulders. Inexperience shouldn't be a problem.'

2) So have we seen the last of the Ash Splash

Chris Ashton 's swallow-dive try celebration came to be seen by many as symptomatic of the arrogance of England's World Cup campaign.

Ashton could point to his status as joint top try-scorer in the tournament to justify his obsession with over-the-top celebrations, but his apparent unwillingness to bend to Martin Johnson's will and cut it out certainly did nothing to counter the impression that the England manager wasn't entirely in control of his squad.

Under Stuart Lancaster, however, humility is the new England buzzword.

End of the splash Chris Ashton may not be allowed to do his famous trademark celebration

End of the splash Chris Ashton may not be allowed to do his famous trademark celebration

And while Lancaster hasn't exactly banned the Ash Splash, he has made it clear that he does not consider it appropriate in all circumstances.

Whether the naturally exuberant Ashton is the best man to judge what circumstances are appropriate remains open to question.

But, as in the World Cup, if Ashton produces the tries that win a Grand Slam, then it will be hard for anyone to criticise him.

3) Are England risking too much on youth

For all that the World Cup campaign was a shambles, improving on England's record under Martin Johnson is almost certain to take time.

Johnson, after all, still won 10 of his last 13 internationals, which was enough to make England last year's Six Nations champions.

Although there will be significant changes from the last England team seen in action – the World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in October – eight of the men who featured then will still be running out to face Scotland at Murrayfield next Saturday, and that number would have been more had it not been for injuries to Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes, all certain starters.

Still part of the set-up: Ben Foden has been part of the England set-up for a few years

Still part of the set-up: Ben Foden has been part of the England set-up for a few years

'There's a core of players surviving from the World Cup who could be around for the next 10 years,' Tom Croft points out.

'We'll only be better for the painful World Cup lessons.' Ben Foden agrees and promises: 'We'll play without any fear and use our instincts much more.'

With three away fixtures in the Six Nations, the tournament will be a tough examination of Stuart Lancaster's new-look England.

If Lancaster does enough to hang on to the job, then a three-Test tour to South Africa in June followed by the Tri-Nations powers coming to Twickenham in November, promises to make it a tough 2012 for the coach – and his team.

4) Can Lancaster hang on to his job as coach

Stuart Lancaster has impressed the RFU power-brokers enough for them to put back the deadline for appointing a head coach for the three-Test tour to South Africa in June – and for Lancaster to feel happy to apply for the post.

But it's a difficult position for him because he is looking at the four-year build-up to the 2015 World Cup rather than just the next few weeks, although the Six Nations results will play a major part in whether he stays or goes.

Earning his stripes: Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has a chance to earn the job full-time

Earning his stripes: Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has a chance to earn the job full-time

Eyes on the the prize: Lancaster will aim to win the Six Nations to get a chance to get the job permanently

Eyes on the the prize: Lancaster will aim to win the Six Nations to get a chance to get the job permanently

Three wins out of five is probably the very minimum he needs.

'What happens after the Six Nations will be decided by others,' says Lancaster. 'I'd like to have the chance to carry on but I understand how important results are.'

5) Has the humiliation of the World Cup really sunk in

Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has made humility and responsibility two of his prime messages to the newlook England squad and even imported sporting heroes such as Gary Neville and Kevin Sinfield from football and rugby league to hammer home the point.

The players appear to have understood this. 'We obviously got a lot wrong off the pitch at the World Cup,' admits prop Dan Cole.

'We must now put the wrongs right. We can't behave as we did off the field. We owe it to our fans, to our families and to each other.'

Disappointment: England have to realise how poor they were in the World Cup

Disappointment: England have to realise how poor they were in the World Cup

His teammates seem to agree. 'We need to be completely disciplined, not just in games but off the field as well,' says scrum-half Ben Youngs.

Back-row man Tom Croft is also on-message. 'We're representing our country so we must err on the side of caution,' he adds.

'We need to understand what is the right time and the right place, and we're desperate to change our critics' views of us.'

The players have been told in no uncertain terms that there is a zero tolerance policy for any off-field misdemeanours and the treatment of Danny Care – kicked out of the England elite player squad following a drink-driving offence – is an immediate example of the repercussions for those who fail to toe the line.