TEN years on from the greatest Ashes series of all, the 2015 version has the capacity to be similarly compelling.
Australia go into it as favourites – just as they did back in 2005 – but we all know what happened that year.
The Australians are not as strong as they were then, and neither are England.
But the quality on both sides should ensure an intriguing few weeks to come, and it will be fascinating to see how the rubber unfolds.
If England are to win it – and the bookmakers do not give them much of a chance – they must transfer their new-found positivity in one-day cricket into the Test match arena.
The way they performed against New Zealand – rather than the 3-2 victory itself – captured the public imagination after the plodding performances at the World Cup.
To watch England play without fear and go for the jugular – exemplified by Jonny Bairstow’s series-clinching innings at Chester-le-Street – was to be enthused for what they might do against Australia.
The Test side, of course, will be slightly different, but that attacking mentality must be maintained.
The key to the series will probably lie in how England’s batsmen cope with Australia’s bowlers.
You will recall that in the last series Down Under, they did not cope particularly well – a drivenMitchell Johnson taking 37 wickets to send England diving to a 5-0 defeat.
Johnson is back to inflict more terror, along with such as Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
Throw in the off-spin of Nathan Lyon, who will have plenty of left-handers to bowl to, and the Australian attack has significant threat – notwithstanding the retirement of Ryan Harris at the weekend.
England’s strategy against Lyon will be important.
In the recent Test series against New Zealand, they were too timid against the off-spin of Mark Craig and more or less allowed him to bowl at them.
A more proactive policy needs to be adopted against Lyon, forcing Australia to go back to their pace men before captain Michael Clarke is ready to employ them.
If England allow Lyon to tie up an end, that will mean more rest and recovery time for the quicker bowlers.
The other aspect is the age of Australia’s players.
Johnson, for example, is 33, and the last thing he needs is to take on more work.
Of the batsmen, Chris Rogers is 37, Clarke (who has a history of back problems) 34, and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin 37.
Small wonder that Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach and former Australia fast bowler, recently referred to the tourists – tongue wedged firmly in cheek – as “Dad’s Army”.
It is not Captain Mainwaring on whom sizeable English hopes rest, of course, but Captain Cook.
Alastair Cook had a dreadful couple of years before rediscovering his form on the recent West Indies tour, which he then backed up in the series against New Zealand.
But here now is an acid test for his batsmanship as well as his captaincy, for Australia will be loath to feed his cut shot, pull and nudge off the hips.
They will probe away at him on or just outside the off stump, and Cook must find a method of scoring as well as surviving.
He will have a junior opener by his side who needs no introduction.
Adam Lyth, the Yorkshire left-hander, has made a good start to his Test career, scoring a century in the recent game against New Zealand at Headingley on only his second appearance.
This will be a different test for the 27-year-old, a really challenging one, but he possesses the talent and technique to flourish.
Yorkshire’s contribution to the series could well prove to be significant.
Joe Root is now the best batsman in England – and one of the finest in the world. Gary Ballance has had a torrid time lately, but he will surely come again. Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid are outstanding natural talents. Liam Plunkett is a key force with the ball when fully-fit.
It could almost be Yorkshire versus Australia, such are the number of White Rose players in and around the national set-up, which is a feather in the cap for the Headingley staff.
Yorkshire almost provided the new England coach too, but that job went to Trevor Bayliss over Gillespie.
Bayliss, another Australian, has inside knowledge of the visiting team that may well come in very handy.
He took temporary charge of Australia for their T20 series in South Africa last year, while he has also coached New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield and Sydney Sixers in the Australian Big Bash.
Bayliss is widely regarded – not least by Clarke’s players – and is renowned for his positive mentality. If that rubs off on Cook and has the effect of making him more aggressive as a captain, so much the better.
So, Australia start as favourites, but do not dismiss England.
They have momentum after their ODI series win over New Zealand, even if the Ashes is a different format and kettle of fish.
Australia have not won an Ashes campaign in this country for 14 years, when Gillespie and co ruled the roost, and it may not be the walkover that some people predict.
If England are positive, fearless and get the nation behind them, they could yet reprise that glorious summer of 2005.