England supporters generally look back on the 2005 Ashes opener with mixed feelings. Yes, it was the game in which Steve Harmison laid down a marker for a famous summer by hitting each of Australia's top three. But, let's be frank: England bowled Australia out for 190 and still ended up losing by 239 runs. Another marker, though, was laid down which would ultimately prove just as important to England's chances. And that marker was Kevin Pietersen.
On the face of it, his first Test innings was no more than a modest half-century, but the stats did not even tell a fraction of the story. England had been in disarray on the first evening of the game, reduced to 21 for five by Glenn McGrath at his remorseless best. But Pietersen hung on until the close with a bit of help with Geraint Jones and then decided the following morning that hanging around was going to get him nowhere.
The technical obsessives had fretted that Pietersen's bottom-handed technique would be food and drink for the ravenous McGrath, but in the space of three thrilling deliveries Pietersen scotched that notion - and how! With the Australians not unreasonably scenting blood, Pietersen followed a swipe for four with possibly the shot of the match: an audacious drive into the MCC members in the pavilion for six. A boundary next ball had McGrath chuntering all the way back to fine leg and prompted Wisden to call the assault "soul-stirring".
With partners running out, Pietersen then climbed into his old mate Shane Warne, slog-sweeping him for six into the Grand Stand as the Lord's crowd sensed something special. And had it not been for a world-class running catch just inside the deep midwicket boundary the following ball by Damien Martyn, Pietersen might even have earned England a first-innings lead.
The game was lost, with Pietersen completing an unbeaten half-century in the second innings, but England's new recruit had proved he could live with the best Australia had to throw at him. Later in the series, he would show exactly how quickly he was learning.