Australia v New Zealand, World Cup 2015 Final, Melbourne March 27, 2015

The revival of Australia's ODI fortunes

They were notably down on confidence at the Champions Trophy in 2013 but the changes in mindset since then have taken them all the way to the World Cup final

Aaron Finch's aggression at the top has been a part of a major mindset shift from Australia's awful Champions Trophy © Getty Images

A World Cup campaign that will end at the MCG on Sunday began in the Hampshire town of Southampton in September 2013. So did Aaron Finch's.

Following an awful Champions Trophy for Australia, of which neither Finch nor the coach Darren Lehmann were a part, both men found themselves in the set-up that convened after the loss of a third consecutive Ashes series in England.

Finch's place in the Australian limited-overs squad had been transient up to that point: he was initially not selected for the 50-over component of the trip. But a barnstorming innings of 156 in the opening T20 match at Ageas Bowl saw him retained for the rest of the tour, and he has been in the team ever since.

It is easy to forget how inept Australia had appeared during the Champions Trophy, lacking sorely in any confidence to take the game on and, it was later to be revealed, squabbling among themselves. It was the final straw for the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and team performance manager Pat Howard, who sacked Mickey Arthur and replaced him with Lehmann for the Ashes.

If the Test series showed small shoots of growth, it was the limited-overs assignments following them that illustrated how Lehmann wanted his men to play. Finch's efforts in Hampshire set a template for top-order batting, and Mitchell Johnson would later put the frighteners on England's batsmen with pace bowling of high class and undeniable venom.

Eighteen months later, Finch looked back on that time as a significant one for him and the team. It was a period in which a group of players scarred by the India Test tour and the "homework" fiasco were coaxed back into a more aggressive mindset, imbued with belief by Lehmann and permitted to make mistakes.

"I doubted whether I was going to actually be in that touring squad, luckily I got that 150 in the Ageas Bowl game," Finch recalled. "That's probably what might have tipped them over the edge to keep me in the squad. To come in then was really nice, it was a fresh attitude and new coaching staff and everything.

"I think I'd got 150 against Queensland at the Gabba one time when Boof was coach of the Bulls, so hopefully small things like that add up and he remembers them."

The mindset differences between Australia at the Champions Trophy and Australia after it were quickly apparent. Finch's hitting at the Ageas Bowl showed what was possible when he was allowed to unleash the more destructive side of his cricketing nature, bludgeoning perfectly respectable bowling to all parts of the ground.

Others were similarly liberated, from George Bailey, who excelled in India on the following tour, to Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell. At the same time the likes of Maxwell and Steven Smith were encouraged to make the most of their outlandish talent, even if it meant playing a shot an over rather than one a ball.

"I think what's important from the coach and the captain is you've got so much confidence in when you tell them how you think you're playing and the strategy you're going with, they back you 100%," Finch said of Lehmann and Michael Clarke. "That does give you a lot of confidence, because you know if you miss out a couple of times that you're not just going to be moved to the side and, I suppose, go back to Shield cricket and try and work your way back up.

"They have confidence in you and confidence in your game plan. You've seen that in the way Australia have played over the past two years. It's attacking, it's taking the game on. When the game's there to be won, it's generally the team that attacks the most generally wins…"

Finch has been repaid for his earlier efforts by the fact he has been retained throughout this tournament, even if his form dipped badly after an opening hundred against England. At the SCG, he played an uncharacteristically muted innings, but in doing so helped Smith to spread his wings.

"It wasn't my most fluid innings, but it was nice to get through that," Finch said. "They bowled well early and then I felt like I hit a lot of fielders in that middle part, but to get through that and contribute to big a partnership… Smithy was going so well, he took a lot of pressure off and allowed me to keep just chipping away.

"It was a bit of a struggle the whole way through, to be honest. To be able to keep chipping away and not throw it away when it probably would have been easier - there were a couple of times I felt a bit of pressure and wanted to go after one. Just keep soaking it up and make sure we were there as far as we could was satisfying."

Finch at the SCG was Australia at this World Cup: not quite fluent, but ever powerful, and unfailingly determined to see the job through. They, and he, are almost there.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig