From the inventors of "crossing the line" and "head-butt the line" has come another phrase - drawing the line. Tim Paine's Australians stood their ground in Perth and, aided by one of the liveliest pitches seen in these parts for years, sprinted to their first Test victory since Durban in March, a couple of weeks before the Newlands scandal that brought the national team and the wider game crashing down to earth.

Characterised by sturdy top order batting against the new ball on day one, persistent if not always precise bowling to absorb a Virat Kohli hundred on days two and three, Paine's stern stand against his opposite number with bat in hand on day four and then the mastery of Nathan Lyon in concert with the pacemen in the fourth innings, this was a decidedly collective performance by a team well aware they have no other alternative.

Even Peter Handscomb, the most harried member of the top six, contributed the two most critical catches of the match - a low snare to end Kohli's first innings at 123, and then an acrobatic one to remove Rishabh Pant, India's last faint hope of victory, on the final morning. There was belated reward, too, for Pat Cummins, claiming the final two wickets of the Test after bowling unstintingly and without luck for most of the previous 10 days of play. Little wonder Paine spoke of drawing the line.

"You've just got to read the situation and go with what you are feeling at the time," Paine said of his encounters with Kohli. "I think it's just one of those things, at times you have got to draw a line and start sticking up for yourself and sticking up for your teammates. We are really passionate about playing for Australia and we are certainly not going to sit back and be walked all over. Sometimes those things happen and you have to get involved.

"We speak a lot as a group of playing on skill and not emotion, and for us that is really important. We know our best cricket is played when we put emotion aside, or most of it, and just concentrate on skill. Having said that there are times when you have to get involved, you have to stick up for your mates and I think we are finding a really good balance. I'm really happy with the way we are going about it. It's my role as captain to make sure we are staying on track, we know what works for this team, for me it is about making sure we keep going down that path."

It had been Paine, of course, who led a shell-shocked Australian side onto the field for the final match of the South Africa series in Johannesburg, where their timid and mentally scrambled display resulted in an enormous defeat and queries from the Proteas about how capable they were of moving on from the nastiness of the past.

The question marks were raised again when England belted the Australians, now coached by Justin Langer, in limited overs matches in mid-year, and when Pakistan had much the better of a Twenty20 triangular series in Zimbabwe and marched towards victory in a Test match in Dubai. But the first signs of a new team with a more balanced approach were to be seen in an admirable final day rearguard led by Usman Khawaja and completed by Paine himself, who memorably counselled his men against triumphalism in the moments immediately afterwards.

If a heavy defeat from a strong position in the following Test in Abu Dhabi was cause for some frustration, and a messy schedule thereafter left numerous players at sixes and sevens in terms of their technical and mental preparation for summer, the component parts started to come together in Adelaide. While Cheteshwar Pujara's enormous skill and the strength in depth of India's bowling attack meant that the hosts would fall narrowly short in the first Test, there was enough to indicate that something better was coming.

"As a group, we are really - well, I am relieved, personally. It's been hard work," Paine said. "The first two Tests of this series have been really, really tough. Both teams have outstanding fast-bowling attacks. It's been a really bruising Test match to be honest. I think, we have touched on before, we have some really inexperienced players in terms of Test matches played. To get a win like that against the best team in the world is going to give them a huge boost of confidence, no doubt.

"I think there were a number of things. Going right back to day one when we won the toss and batted, I thought the way Finchy [Aaron Finch] and Marcus Harris played in that first session, to put on 112, looking back now was critical. It allowed us to get a 300-plus score in the first innings. From that moment I felt we were always just ahead in the game, and only needing a partnership or a wicket to continually stay in front. I thought the way they set us up was outstanding, then Nathan Lyon's bowling in the first innings was, again, unbelievably good.

"Obviously you want to start games well. Momentum is obviously huge in cricket and when you have got it you have got to make the most of it, I am really proud of the way we stuck at it, I think the game tightened up at certain stages and then we stuck to our guns and delivered our skill really well under pressure at times and were managing to keep eking ahead in the game, against a team that's as good as India that's really pleasing for our side."

At the centre of much of it has been Lyon, who has now harvested 16 wickets from two Tests at a meagre 19.43, including eight in Perth on a surface India did not deem helpful enough for spin bowlers to include one. Given how well he performed in India, claiming 23 wickets in what was widely seen as a breakthrough series, Lyon's continuation of an upward trend against the world's most accomplished players of slow bowling is a source of inspiration to all his teammates and many spin bowlers beyond the Australian dressing room.

"I think we have [had total confidence in Lyon] for a couple of years now, but it does seem like he is getting better," Paine said. "I feel like at any stage you can throw him the ball, it doesn't matter at what end, or who is on strike, what time of day it is, he loves it and he loves getting in the contest, even with the bat at the moment, I think his game keeps going to another level, I can feel guys growing in confidence around Nathan and that's what you want from your senior players. He's been fantastic for us."

Nevertheless, this was a victory of which Paine had particular reason to be proud. Australia were in ruins when he was handed the leadership, without anything like the sort of playing background and experience enjoyed by his predecessors Steven Smith, Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor or Allan Border. "What the world doesn't see is his presence in the change room, he's a real learner, he wants to get better, he's very thorough, he prepares as well as anyone and if you go back a few, when he helped draw that match, I think we saw the captain then," Langer told Fox Cricket. "Draw the Test match in Dubai, that's when we saw the captain.

"The other thing about Tim Paine we often forget is, he's literally the best keeper in the world. His keeping is breathtakingly brilliant. In the past we've talked about the captain whether it's Allan Border or Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh, they're the best batsman in the world and on top of their game, he is so on top of his game with his wicketkeeping, it gives him so much confidence. He's an unbelievable cricketer and he's showing he's a really good leader."

To witness how leadership has not broken Paine but rather strengthened his authority and skill, has been to see why the Australian team was able to stand up and, as their captain put it, draw the line in Perth.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig