Steven Gerrard cannot explain why England exhibited such a miserable ability to retain possession during the Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy.
Roy Hodgson's starting line-up in Kiev contained eight players who have won either the Premier League, Champions League or both.
For players of such talent, they showed a startling inability to keep the ball.
Restricted to a meagre 36 per cent possession over the 120 minutes, England were shoddy when they had it.
James Milner successfully found a team-mate with only just over half his attempts and, according to UEFA, goalkeeper Joe Hart was their most prolific passer.
For all the attempts to dismiss such observations, which even Hodgson joined in with, and the use of Chelsea's backs-to-the-wall victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich in this season's Champions League, it stands to reason that the team who has the ball most often has the best chance of emerging victorious.
And Gerrard could offer no explanation for what went wrong.
"I don't know," he said.
"It's a difficult question to answer and I am sure it's one of the biggest points of this tournament that the management and coaching staff will have to look into.
"Keeping the ball - especially at this level - is fundamental. It's key if you want to beat the big teams in these tournaments.
"You work so hard without it your opponent ends up running you into the ground and creating chances.
"Football's a mad game at times. If we had won the penalty shoot-out we would have been through to the last four.
"I don't look at stats too much unless it's clear time and time again that something's sticking out so obviously.
"In this tournament we have come up short as far as possession is concerned."
That England showed ineptitude in that department is beyond doubt.
Of far greater difficulty is what to do about it.
One of the obvious reasons is the 'up-and-at-'em' style of the Premier League.
That is what makes the competition so popular, though, and with a new £3billion TV deal just agreed, it would be a brave man to call for that style to be radically altered.
It is envisaged the FA's new coaching hub at St George's Park will have a positive impact.
That will require patience, though, something that has not always been in evidence within the English game.
"The education of the young kids is vital," said Gerrard.
"But I hope it doesn't take 10 years. I hope we're good enough to improve and bridge the gap with these big teams before that."
In a former life, it is easy to imagine Hodgson running a critical eye over proceedings.
After all, as a previous member of UEFA's technical committee, he is something of an expert in such matters.
An instant reaction on UEFA's website today was that England "lacked flair" but highlighted their "grit and determination".
"The team is very hard working, very disciplined and defended well," said Hodgson.
"I would probably have flagged up that we were a bit wasteful and when we had a chance to move out and do something with the ball we didn't always take that opportunity."
Hodgson cited injuries to Gerrard (cramp) and Scott Parker (Achilles) as restricting factors, in addition to pre-tournament injuries that robbed him of Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Jack Wilshere.
However, in keeping with the refreshingly straightforward approach he has taken to the job, Hodgson refused to hide behind such factors in the overall assessment of a bad night, the major consolation from which, from the fans at least, was that it spared an even worse one against Germany on Thursday.
"We haven't made excuses at this tournament and I won't start now," said Hodgson.
"I'm disappointed that I can't sit here and say we were good last night and we were just unlucky.
"We are too honest for that.
"Given the way the game was going and the problems we had been trying to deal with one or two people said to me as the penalty shoot-out was about to start 'this is going to be our time'.
"But it wasn't and once again we lost out."