Australia sense fear in English batsmen’s eyes already in the Ashes, especially after Jonathan Trott’s two hapless failures against Mitchell Johnson in the first Test.
It was left to David Warner to put the boot in.
He was scathing in his review of Alastair Cook’s side, describing the tourists as scared and singling out Trott’s performance as “poor” and “weak”.
England ended day three at the Gabba with precious little hope of salvaging a draw at a venue where Australia are unbeaten in the last 25 years.
Warner (124) and Michael Clarke (113) put the hosts in complete control, in a run-a-ball stand of 158, as Australia piled up 401 for seven declared to set England a mountainous task in a notional pursuit of a world-record 561 to win.
The tourists were therefore made to pay for their calamitous collapse 24 hours earlier, to 136 all out - principally against the pace of Johnson.
After then struggling to stumps on 24 for the loss of Michael Carberry and Trott second time round, it was hard to see how they could recover sufficient composure to take this contest the distance.
Trott’s form, and susceptibility to the short ball, is an obvious and particular worry.
Trott has been short of his best for much of the past year, and has mustered only 19 runs here before his unequal struggles against Johnson have ended predictably.
Warner was in no mood for mercy on Saturday, either with the bat, or in his close-of-play press conference.
“England are on the back foot. It does look like they’ve got scared eyes at the moment,” said the combative opener.
“The way that Trotty got out today was pretty poor, and pretty weak.
“Obviously, there’s a weakness there at the moment - and we’re probably on top of it.”
Trott has reacted to Australia’s line of attack by trying to rush off side of the ball, but then playing instinctive and uncontrolled flicks and pulls - twice paying with his wicket, cheaply. Warner was happy to spell out that, at present, England’s number three appears to have very little going for him - even down to his banter on the pitch.
“I think he’s got to get new ‘sledges’ as well, because it’s not working for him,” he said.
“We’ve seen him work hard in the nets on the short ball.
“But trying to face a 150kph short ball from Mitchell Johnson, the way to go is not probably to back away.
“Mitch’s pace is up, and he’s always got no fear.
“That’s the best thing about him - he’ll come out hard and aggressively. When he’s on top, he’s hard to stop.”
England fast bowler James Anderson acknowledges his team-mate has issues with Australia’s line of attack against him, but is backing Trott to respond effectively.
“It’s something he’s well aware of, and has worked very hard at since he’s come over here,” said Anderson.
“But a guy like that doesn’t average 50 in Test cricket, because he can’t play the short ball.
“We know he can. He’s obviously going through a difficult period, but we know he’s got a lot of character and skill - enough to come out the other end.
“It’s something for Trotty to figure out. It’s down to him and our coaches to come out the other end of this.”
Trott’s struggles are symptomatic of the tourists’ collective difficulties against Johnson here, and Anderson added: “We didn’t perform well at all yesterday with the bat.
“But we’ve got an opportunity now to show some character and some fight ... to try to stay in the game.
“We’ve got that fight and character in abundance in our dressing room. It’s now we’ve got to start showing that ... we’ve just got to keep scrapping in this Test match.
“If we do lose this game, we’re going to go down fighting ... and keep battling to the very end.”
Warner, meanwhile, can at least start to contemplate an early lead in this series as Australia seek to stop England winning a fourth successive Ashes.
“It will be massive for us to take a 1-0 lead,” he said.
“The boys are on a high, but we’ve got to come out and take those eight wickets.”
He has a word of advice for Anderson too.
It seems Clarke and England’s frontline seamer have little regard for one another, following a series of clashes on and off the pitch over the years.
But after Anderson came off worst here, Warner thinks it is probably time for him to stop trying to get the better of the Australia captain verbally.
“There’s a bit of history there - something between those two. I don’t know why,” he said.
“If they want to keep on doing that, I think Michael will just laugh at him.”