Derbyshire 172 and 53 for 3 trail Australians 338 for 5 dec (Marsh 74, Khawaja 72, Harris 64) by 113 runs
Steven Smith batted in a match for the first time since his concussion diagnosis during the Lord's Test with the air of a cricketer impatient for the Ashes to resume or, at least, to face better bowling than the modest spin being twirled down at him by Derbyshire on a low-key second day of the tour game.
He indicated as much by following a brief, 38-ball innings of 23 that ended in a skewed slog to cover by immediately taking up a far longer stint in the nets. There, still in his creams, he faced up to speedier deliveries with newish balls being sidearmed at him by the assistant coach Sridharan Sriram and the resting David Warner - his habitual throw-downer Graeme Hick being spelled from coaching duties this week.
Perhaps Smith was still getting used to dealing with the hemmed-in feelings he has complained about when wearing a protective stem guard on the back of his neck - the place where Jofra Archer struck him at Lord's. "I just feel claustrophobic," Smith has said of the stem guards. "I compare it to being stuck in an MRI scan machine."
But certainly this sequence indicated that for Smith at least, the Derbyshire attack was far from his preferred way of preparing for a Test match; not that other team-mates of his took the same view with rather less open-and-shut cases for selection at Old Trafford.
Marcus Harris glided to an attractive 64 before he was run out when Usman Khawaja, who went on to 72, declined his call for a quick single. While Khawaja initially set off and so may be seen to be at fault for changing his mind, the speed with which Dustin Melton's throw from cover was fired back to hit the stumps direct was a good indicator that the senior man's judgment was the soundest of the two.
That wicket cleared the way for Mitchell Marsh to play decently on his way to 74, equal parts watchful and powerful, though only likely to take part in this series if one of the two remaining pitches is prepared to be a flat surface requiring the Australians to consider a fifth bowler. Marsh has flagged that after spending the past two years or more prioritising Test cricket, he is now growing impatient to return to the Twenty20 circuit with all its attendant riches.
Another brief and distracted-looking innings was played by Matthew Wade, granting Cameron Bancroft and Marnus Labuschagne the chance to add an unbeaten 76 together, speckled with boundaries against the second new ball. Khawaja's declaration left the Australians with about 80 minutes in which to bowl, enough time for Mitchel Starc to send down an encouraging new-ball spell in his last chance to press for selection at Old Trafford.
Clean bowling Billy Godleman with a ball of full length, he went on to pin Anuj Dal lbw. Peter Siddle followed up by coaxing an edge from Luis Reece that was pouched by Wade in the slips, and beat the bat several more times in the closing 20 minutes to underline that he, too, is eager for Manchester and all that will unfold there.