And so, for the third time in two years, it begins. By the time you read this, the Cardiff crowd will already be sheltering under their hoods and the ground will be humming with the barely suppressed excitement of a thousand yet-to-be-answered questions; questions such as: "Do you think they'll get on before lunch?" and "I wonder what colour Michael Atherton's umbrella will be?"

We don't know what's going to happen in this year's Ashes, although we do know what's not going to happen: an English victory. Home fans approach this series in the same way that Greek citizens approach a cash machine: unsure what they're going to end up with but fairly certain it will be less than they'd hoped for.

Still, the ECB has done its best. All England personnel have been issued with lucky ECB rabbits' feet and lucky ECB underpants, although the rabbits' feet don't contain real rabbit, and owing to a mix-up at the Amazon warehouse, the underpants are only available in "Gatting Plus" - the next size up from XXXL.

And speaking of corpulent former Ashes heroes, in their hour of need, the ECB have called on Sir IT Thwackem, the closest thing English cricket has to a super hero. In recent years, Sir Sirloin has developed a range of new middle-aged superpowers, including a Sonic Death Grumble and Nostalgia Vision, which is like X-Ray vision, but a bit foggier.

Earlier this week, the England players were forced to sit in a semi-circle and listen to Sir Bluster's Tales of the Oft-Repeated, about the time he beat Australia single-handed, the other time he beat Australia single-handed, the time he played that prank with Allan Lamb that you've all read about, and the 107 occasions on which he had a run-in with someone wearing an MCC tie.

It isn't clear what the ECB hopes to gain by making the England players sit through Uncle Ian's war stories, but perhaps they hope that nostalgia might be their secret weapon. After all, it is ten years to the day that the Greatest Ever Ashes Series Ever began and there are some remarkable parallels between 2015 and 2005: the fact that the year ends in a "5", the fact that Michael Vaughan will be all over the media, the fact that the Australian team is getting on a bit, and er… well that's about it.

But it isn't really 2005 that springs to mind when contemplating the next seven weeks. No, I'm afraid this series reeks of 2001. That was the year England's pre-summer planning consisted of Nasser Hussain using the recently purchased ECB laminator to produce a range of inspirational dressing-room slogans, including, "Well, You Never Know, Do You", and "Stranger Things Have Happened", and "Remember The Light Brigade".

And the theory that England might have an advantage because the Australians are, like, really, really old (we're talking mid-30s at least) is particularly desperate. This very week, Pakistan have tip-toed further up the Test rankings thanks to the efforts of two of the five-day game's senior citizens: Misbah-ul-Haq (aged 105) and Younis Khan (aged 97), who once again have shown us that when it comes to Test cricket, a good old 'un is worth two good young 'uns (provided he doesn't have to run around too much).

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73