With the ease of a Jason Roy whip to midwicket, England cast off their indifferent Ashes form to demolish Australia in the first ODI in Melbourne. Roy's record-breaking performance, and England's first win over the hosts since arriving at the start of November, has instantly given a harder edge to what was otherwise shaping as another context-free bilateral bunfight.
Steven Smith's subsequent admission that England currently lead the way in a format they have traditionally accorded second-class status was noteworthy largely for its candour. Australia are the World Cup holders but, on recent form, not among the leading pack when it comes to contesting the trophy in England next year. The ease with which their total of 304 for 8 was reeled in on Sunday was indicative of both their shortcomings with the bat and the efficacy of England's ultra-aggressive approach.
The obvious imperative for Australia to raise their tempo, conceded by David Warner, was then met with a stony response from Jonny Bairstow: "They can go out and copy what we do but it might not work for them So just saying 'oh we're going to try and do that', that's something that we've been working on for the last 18 months."
To further complicate matter for Smith, a sickness bug has affected the Australia camp, with Josh Hazlewood ruled out of the Gabba ODI and wicketkeeper Tim Paine also struggling; the uncapped Alex Carey has been called up as cover. With Pat Cummins also being rested for this match, Jhye Richardson could be handed a debut.
While the vexed matter of Ben Stokes' winter itinerary continues to preoccupy England, the one-day team is confident enough to strut their stuff without him. Australia were among the nations they were seeking to emulate when they began their 50-over overhaul in 2015; now they are hoping to show there is a distance between the sides.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
An innocuous debut against England in 2015, in which he scored 4 batting at No. 8 and bowled fourth change, little hinted at what Marcus Stoinis is capable of. In eight ODI innings since then, he has only once been dismissed for less than 42, although his display of controlled aggression in the latter overs at the MCG was not enough to lift Australia up to a par score against a turbo-charged opponent. Still, in a one-day middle order that looks to be in flux, Stoinis perhaps offers a glimpse of Australia's future.
Eoin Morgan is set to captain England in ODIs for a record 70th time and has long since got used to the extra scrutiny that comes his way. He has become a feast-or-famine batsman and, after a productive first half of 2017 in which he scored three hundreds and three fifties in 15 innings up to the semi-final of the Champions Trophy, appears to be flirting with another dip: a lean series against West Indies followed by dismissal for 1 as England looked to finish off their chase in Melbourne. In his favour is the fact no England batsman has scored more ODI runs against Australia.
Hazlewood's illness and the absence of Cummins means Australia only have 13 fit players, including Carey, to select from. Richardson has played just eight List A games but is capable of pushing the speed gun above 145kph and has international experience, having made his T20 debut last year after impressing in the Big Bash.
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Travis Head, 5 Mitchell Marsh, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Tim Paine/Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Jhye Richardson, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 AJ Tye
England have little reason to change the XI from Melbourne, although David Willey or Tom Curran could come into contention if they wanted to add to their bowling options.
England (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Mark Wood
Pitch and conditions
Warner indicated that Australia were hoping for a surface more suited to their skills in Brisbane, after the "uneven", grassy offering served up at the MCG. Pace and true bounce are only likely to aid England's ball-strikers, although over the last five years, the Gabba has actually been the slowest-scoring of Australia's main grounds. The forecast for Friday is hot and humid, without interruption.
Stats and trivia
Morgan is set to surpass Alastair Cook as the man to have captained England the most times in ODIs. He also needs 35 runs to overtake Paul Collingwood - currently a member of the coaching staff - as England's second-highest run-scorer.
Australia have only lost once to England in seven ODIs at the Gabba - chasing a revised target in 1999. Four years ago, they won thanks to a last-wicket partnership of 57 between James Faulkner and Clint McKay, of which McKay scored 2.
Travis Head is 61 runs short of 1000 in one-day internationals.
Liam Plunkett needs one more wicket for 100 in ODIs; Chris Woakes is four shy of the same landmark.
"We've seen it all through the summer from both sides, there's been quite a lot of illness, which is strange but the guys that are there to come in and potentially take their spot if they need are in great form as well."
Aaron Finch believes Australia have the strength in depth to cope with absences
"I have been asked to open the batting in six games and I have scored two hundreds in those games. It is going to take a bit of time to completely know and understand [opening] but I have been really pleased with how I have started in the role."
Jonny Bairstow on his successful move up the order