England rugby coach Lancaster set for journey of discovery
England captain Chris Robshaw (L) and head coach Stuart Lancaster pictured with the Six Nations trophy in London on January 22, 2014 - by Adrian Dennis
But injuries mean the England coach is set to be forced into fielding a new-look side for next month's Six Nations opener against France, with fly-half Owen Farrell the only member of the Red Rose back division who can be reasonably certain of starting in Paris.
"The challenge is to get the team ready to try and win the World Cup because ultimately that's what we'll all be judged on," Lancaster said at the Six Nations launch in London on Wednesday.
"You would never approach a game against France, or any Six Nations match, as an experiment because you want to win," added Lancaster.
"It's a results-based business. There are no friendlies in international rugby. You can't see a game as a trial. The players have to be ready.
"What you don't want to do is put a player into an environment like France away if they're not quite ready. It's not fair on the player.
"But if a player looks ready I'd rather find out about his potential to play international rugby now than being sat here in January 2015 worrying over whether they're ready with the World Cup just around the corner."
Centre and wing appear to present Lancaster with his two most problematic positions, given the absence of several leading candidates for those roles, although the return to fitness of Saracens midfielder Brad Barritt could see him paired with either Billy Twelvetrees or the uncapped Luther Burrell.
"We'll take a lot from how training goes this week. Thursday morning's session will be pretty full-on," Lancaster said.
"We'll have the weekend off to think about it and then we'll select the team. We have to make that call over the next five or six days.
"You can watch as many games of rugby as you like, but I do trust my instincts on how the players come across in camp."
England have finished runners-up in the last two Six Nations, each time losing to eventual champions Wales, and Lancaster, for all the squad's injury problems, is looking to go one better this term.
"We've drawn with South Africa, beaten Australia and beaten New Zealand, so our confidence and self-belief are growing," he said.
"As with all players and teams, you want to win things. You want to win trophies and series. That's the ambition for everyone.
"It starts and ends against France -- you don't start thinking about what you'll do against Italy in the fifth game or Wales in the fourth game.
"But the challenge facing us is tough because we have three games away, the first two against France and Scotland away."