After a rain-affected draw at Edgbaston, in which England's push for victory fell flat, the question now stands: who takes the momentum into Headingley? The temptation is to give the nod to England given their 1-0 series advantage and flashes of brilliance between the spells of drizzle in Birmingham. But, on closer inspection, the matter may not be so clear-cut.
Australia will take tremendous confidence from their second-innings batting performance, in which three batsmen passed 50 and one, Michael Clarke, a stoic century in his 50th Test to limit England to just five wickets from 112 overs. Shane Watson's returns of 62 and 53 in his first Test as opener will prove particularly encouraging as will the final-day efforts of Michael Hussey (64) and Marcus North (96), both of whom were in need of a confidence boost.
The Australians will also be buoyed at the possibility that Mitchell Johnson's nightmare might just have been confined to the month of July. Johnson is clearly not back to his wrecking-ball ways from South Africa, but he did manage to make the necessary adjustments to his wrist position to allow him to rediscover the at-the-body line and subtley swing that has made him so effective in past series.
England clearly have grounds for optimism, too. Were it not for the five-and-a-half sessions lost to rain, bad light and the water-logged outfield, they might have better capitalised on their 113-run first-innings advantage. That lead was established after James Anderson and Graham Onions befuddled Australia's batsmen with prodigious aerial movement on Friday, and with Headingley considered among the better swinging grounds in the country, England will hope to probe Australia's barely-healed wounds.
England still lead the five-match series 1-nil, but it will only take one victory by Australia to level the series. And that, of course, will be enough to see our trans-Tasman allies retain the Ashes. Yje series is still poised on a knife-edge, and we are thoroughly looking forward to the next match at Leeds which starts on Friday evening. Headingley, of course, will be forever remembered for one of the great Ashes innings ...