ENGLAND went into the Ashes Series against Australia as overwhelming underdogs, but emerged as comfortable victors in the back of a 169-run triumph to leave the visitors plenty to ponder ahead of the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
Before the great rivals resume hostilities once again, we ponder five things we have learned from the last four days in Cardiff ...
1. THE SCARS HAVE HEALED
This was not just a victory, it was a decisive statement that the wounds of the 2013/14 whitewash would not play a part in the series.
This is a new England and the attacking ethos of the New Zealand tour has remained.
England are not the perfect side but there is no inferiority complex to be seen.
2. BRAD’S HAD IT; WHAT NOW FOR WATTO?
Brad Haddin has relished his contests with England over the years, over-performing against his career stats more often than not.
But the end game is rapidly approaching for the 37-year-old. Dropping centurion Joe Root on nought, moving creakily throughout and failing to find his batting form makes for a poor contribution.
He gave 24 byes in Cardiff, the next one could be a goodbye.
Shane Watson may not even get the chance to earn a reprieve. He was out lbw twice, the most predictable dismissal in Test cricket, and his seamers were flat. Mitch Marsh looks set for a Lord’s recall.
3. ROOT IS NO AVERAGE JOE
Despite his golden boy status, Joe Root came to Cardiff with a case to answer against the Australians - his average against them standing at 33.18 versus a career mark north of 55.
After being granted his life by Haddin, the Yorkshireman batting beautifully for 134 and backed up with 60 in the second innings.
Australia need to keep him quieter than that to get a foothold in the series.
4. CAPTAIN COOK IS ON THE UP
Criticism of Alastair Cook’s captaincy is an exhaustively well-rehearsed theme, but few could pick fault from his four days at Cardiff.
He was right to bat first despite damp conditions and cloud cover on day one, he had arguably his best Test yet in terms of field positions and successful fielding places and his players clearly feel comfortable expressing themselves under his command.
The old dog is thriving with some new tricks.
5. ENGLAND’S SEAMERS STACK UP
In the pre-series debates there was one point almost everybody was agreed upon: Australia held the aces in terms of pace bowling.
But James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood turned in exceptional performances - combining skill and discipline to brilliant effect.
Mitchell Johnson was not at his devastating best, as has often been the case on tours of England and Wales, and Mitchell Starc is carrying an ankle injury.
The Australian advantage is suddenly harder to discern.