It is currently widely accepted that open star clusters and stellar associations result from the evolution of embedded star clusters. Parameters such star formation efficiency, time-scale of gas removal and velocity dispersion can be determinants of their future as bound or unbound systems. Finding objects at an intermediate evolution state can provide constraints to model the embedded cluster evolution. In the H ii region IC 1396, Trumpler 37 is an extended young cluster that presents characteristics of an association. We employed the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) photometry for analysing its structure and stellar content, and determining its astrophysical parameters. We also analysed 11 bright-rimmed clouds in IC 1396 in order to search for young infrared star clusters, and the background open star cluster Teutsch 74, to verify whether it has any contribution to the observed stellar density profile of Trumpler 37. The derived parameters and comparison with template objects from other studies lead us to conclude that Trumpler 37, rather than as a star cluster, will probably emerge from its molecular cloud as an OB association.