England are currently ranked fifth in the world, behind the All Blacks, South Africa, Australia and Ireland, but they have a favourable draw.
The Six Nations champions will be expected to top their pool which also includes Scotland and Argentina, setting up a potential quarter-final showdown with France.
"Our goal is to reach the semi-final,'' said Flood.
"That is our minimum requirement. I would be very disappointed if we don't get that far.
"Obviously our aim is to win the World Cup, we want to go as far as we possibly can but to win a trophy you have to take it one stage at a time.
"If you can make the semi-finals then anything can happen. You are one game away from the final and you can readjust your goals from there.''
England beat France at Twickenham earlier this year and they have accounted for Les Bleus in the knockout stages at each of the last two World Cups.
From there, the form guide would suggest a meeting with Australia in the semi-finals - another team England beat at both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
Martin Johnson's men produced one of their best performances of recent times to beat the Wallabies at Twickenham in November and confidence is high as the squad prepare for their pre-tournament training camp.
But so is realism. England won their first Six Nations title since 2003 but stuttered over the later weeks of the tournament and eventually lost to Ireland in Dublin, costing them the Grand Slam.
Flood admits that setback taught England a brutal lesson in the need to keep evolving their game, particularly in tournament rugby, rather than rely too heavily on the same game-plan.
"That is hugely important,'' added the Leicester fly-half.
"We started the tournament fantastically and we were playing in a certain manner but the Dublin weekend taught us the need to evolve as a squad, that we need to make better judgments.
"We need to be preparing specifically for that one game rather than preparing in general.
"But take it back a year and half and people were saying we can't play rugby. When we do people say we got caught out.
"Ultimately as a squad we are getting much better.''
Johnson will name a party of around 45 players that will meet at Pennyhill Park in the week beginning June 20, a group that has to be whittled down to 30 names by August 22.
England have three World Cup warm-up matches - home and away against Wales before tackling Ireland in Dublin on August 27, days before they fly to New Zealand.
When Flood returns from the World Cup he will be right back into the action with Leicester but he will also be mentoring a young rugby fan in the art of being a professional player.
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