* Tomkins, Burrell and Trinder added to squad for November tests
* Midfield berths up for grabs with Tuilagi and Barritt injured
The most convoluted chapter of England's post-2003 World Cup story took another twist on Wednesday when uncapped centres Joel Tomkins, Luther Burrell and Henry Trinder were included in the squad for the November tests.
Injuries have ruled regular midfield duo Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt out of the games against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand and coach Stuart Lancaster has rewarded the three new boys for their flying starts to the domestic season.
They still have work to do to force their way into the matchday squads, however, with Billy Twelvetrees and Kyle Eastmond, fresh from impressive showings in the summer tour of Argentina, in pole position.
Barritt is England's defensive organiser and is hugely popular with the coaches for his defensive dependency while Tuilagi is a world-class line breaker on his day.
However, the pairing have been criticised for their lack of creativity and their absence has forced Lancaster to try a new approach.
"Injuries create opportunities," the coach told reporters at a news conference at the iconic Lloyd's Building in central London ahead of next Monday's squad meet-up.
"You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or see it as a positive.
"At the World Cup you are going to need a big squad and be able to trust all your players - the trick now is to get the selections right."
Lancaster is by no means the first England coach to be left scratching his head over his midfield combinations.
Clive Woodward won the World Cup with the established pairing of Will Greenwood and Mike Tindall but since then the 12 and 13 shirts have changed hands with dizzying regularity.
In the 111 tests since their 2003 final victory, England have started with 26 different players in those positions - 11 of them playing three or fewer tests - and used 39 different pairings.
The longest unbroken run is five tests - Riki Flutey and Jamie Noon in 2008/09 and Shontayne Hape and Tindall in 2010/11. Tuilagi and Barritt have the most starts together with 11 in 2012/13, but not in a row.
Twelvetrees, who got a late call up to the British and Irish Lions in Australia, has a great chance to stamp his authority on the inside centre berth while rugby league convert Eastmond showed much-needed spark in his two appearances in Argentina.
Tomkins, another rugby league convert, has been impressive at outside centre for Saracens this season while Northampton's Burrell offers a powerful option at 12 after being included as injury cover.
Trinder has also caught the eye for Gloucester at outside centre and comes straight into the senior squad having bypassed this season's Saxons squad.
"I coached him (Trinder) a few times in the Saxons and he was key in out Churchill Cup win a couple of years back," Lancaster said.
"He's had a few injuries but he's played exceptionally well this season and deserves to be there.
England backs coach Andy Farrell was also confident that Trinder was ready.
"He has a big box of tricks and in the last couple of years he wanted to show them but this season he's shown real maturity and how he brings his game out is fantastic," he said.
"There's a bit of everything in there and his ability to beat people has been sensational this season."
Tomkins, brother of England rugby league international Sam, has "forgotten how to play league", said Farrell, who also made the code switch but much later in his career.
"Joel is a big boy who is going to be a handful," he added. "By his own admission he's still learning but union is getting instinctive to him now and he's made some great strides."
Flanker Tom Johnson has been rewarded for his impressive performances for Exeter by earning a recall in place of the injured Tom Croft but he faces a real fight to make the team in an area featuring potential captains Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw.
Prop Alex Corbisiero, one of the key figures in the Lions' series victory over Australia, is a doubt for at least the opening game against the Wallabies on Nov. 2 with a knee problem.