It's hard to say what the most impressive aspect of James Anderson's career is. The longevity is incredible, of course. The range of skills is remarkable. But perhaps the most outstanding aspect of Anderson's career is his ability to keep learning.

We saw that in action on the first morning in Leeds. Anderson's first spell - a spell of 8-5-6-3 - was a masterclass in controlled swing bowling. He not only removed the cream of India's batting within the space of 31 balls, but demonstrated a greatest-hits package of skills picked up over almost two decades in the game. This is what it must have been like to watch Picasso paint or Hemingway write. This was a master at work.

At the heart of this spell was Anderson's outswinger. It's his primary skill, really. It was picked up in his early days as a teenager at Lancashire from Mike Watkinson. It remains a key part of his armoury; he bowled 21 of them in this spell. But it became far more potent once he was able to combine it with the inswinger - a skill which he has said took "years" to master and which he delivered 20 times here - and more dangerous still when allied to the wobble-seam delivery, which he picked up having watched Mohammad Asif and Stuart Clark in action, and which he bowled only once or twice in this spell. In combination, they are devastating.

But there was another aspect to this spell beyond the technical. It was that Anderson delivered his skills with cold, clinical precision. He didn't just bowl fine deliveries, he set batters up like a poacher laying traps. He kept his cool. He stuck to his plans. He was relentless.

It has not always been this way. Ahead of the third Test, Anderson admitted England had allowed their emotions to get the better of them at Lord's. They had been upset by Jasprit Bumrah's spell against Anderson - an excellent spell that interspersed a fair few short deliveries with some well-directed full ones - and then appeared set on revenge rather than Bumrah's wicket when he came out to bat. The resultant partnership with Mohammed Shami changed the game. Anderson had learned his lesson.

In isolation, some of these dismissals look as if they're the result of loose strokes. A replay of KL Rahul's wicket, for example, will show the batter drawn into pushing at one outside off stump. Cheteshwar Pujara, too, may reflect he could have left the one he edged. But just as the knock-out punch often doesn't tell the full story of a boxing bout, the delivery that takes a wicket doesn't paint the entire picture of a dismissal.

Anderson only bowled four balls at Rahul. But the first three all swung back into him. And while the wicket-taking delivery did require Rahul to reach for it a little, it was also fuller and inviting the drive. That it left him just enough to take the edge was a plan perfectly executed. Sure, Rahul didn't have to play. But a rabbit doesn't have to wander into a snare, either.

It was similar with Pujara. Anderson bowled eight deliveries at him in total. Four of them swung in to the batter, three of them left him and one went straight on. And remember: Anderson long-ago mastered the ability - a skill he picked-up after watching Zaheer Khan - to hide the ball with his left hand until the moment of release so batters are unable to pick-up any clues as to his plans.

The result was a delivery to Pujara that was bowled from slightly wider on the crease, pitched in line and swung away wickedly late to take the edge. Yes, we now know the ball wouldn't have hit the stumps (only six balls in the spell would have done) and might have been left. But there's little way Pujara could have known that from the information he had before committing to a decision.

The big wicket - whatever his recent struggles might suggest - remains that of Virat Kohli. While there is, no doubt, much respect between these two proud and magnificent cricketers, they sometimes give every impression of loathing one another on the pitch. Maybe that's unfair: perhaps they just recognise in one another a dangerous opponent and know the outcome of their personal encounter could go a long way towards defining the result of the match. Either way, each time they face one another at present presents compelling viewing.

At the start of the series Kohli had looked keen to assert his authority. He seemed determined to make a statement about his fearlessness in the face of England's premier swing bowler. That led him into pushing at his first ball in Nottingham and an outside edge to the keeper.

There was no room for such statements here. India were already two down, after all, with only four runs on the board. Instead, Kohli was determined to reassert himself as a batter and rebuild for his team. So, he left his first five balls - all of them outswingers from Anderson - before pushing his sixth (another Anderson outswinger) through mid-off for three.

Anderson's 11th ball to him was different. Instead of the traditional, swinging delivery, this one was bowled with a slightly scrambled seam. So while Kohli may have noted the seam angled into to him and thought the direction of the ball would follow, it instead pitched and left him. It was fuller, too, and inviting the drive. Kohli, having batted more than half an hour for his seven runs, fell for the bait.

Then the emotion flowed. Then Anderson roared and leapt and allowed himself the uninhibited smile which spoke volumes for his joy and relief. He knew he had allowed the moment to get the better of him at Lord's. He put it right here.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo