Alastair Cook believes England can heed lessons from their Ashes success in 2010/11 but cannot use that series as a “blueprint” to win this winter’s one.
Three years ago the tourists won their first Ashes series in Australia for 24 years, with a 3-1 victory.
Back then Cook was vice-captain to Andrew Strauss, who would lead England to the top of the Test rankings in the summer of 2011, but this time Cook is skipper.
“When we started on that tour we weren’t favourites. People thought we could win if we played well,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I think we took that in as a side: 'if we play well we’ve got a chance'.
“We played very well. From that winter and the next summer were probably the best standard of cricket we played that I’ve been involved in an England side.
“To win three matches over there by an innings was an incredible achievement. So we can look back at that. We can look what we did well.
“We can’t use that as a blueprint. We can’t say 'well that’s what we did then'. Times have changed. We’ve got different players. We have to do what’s right for now. Certainly there were some good lessons from that tour which we’d be foolish not to use.”
England’s margin of victory owed much to Cook’s astonishing 766 runs across the five Tests.
Cook’s tally included a rearguard 235 not out at Brisbane, followed by 148 and 189 respectively in wins at Adelaide and Sydney.
“I got in a bit of form,” he reflected modestly. “I didn’t score runs in the first warm-up game, but pretty much from then onwards I scored 1,000 first-class runs on the tour and that’s quite a lot of runs.
“It’s one of those where I’d had a poor summer before and I think that having that in the back of your mind (helps). I got in and I felt good at the crease. I know the old adage ‘I was doubly determined’, whether I was or not (I was) but I was so hungry not to give it away when I got in.
“To start the series well obviously helps. A not-out double-hundred gives you that and to back that up two days later at Adelaide was a good achievement.
“I do look back with fond memories of that tour. Of course, when you look back, slightly you look through tinted glasses and forget how hard it probably was at the beginning of your innings and a little bit of luck goes you way.”
That triumph was cheese to the chalk of Cook’s other Ashes tour when England were whitewashed in 2006/07.
The opener did at least manage one century in that rubber - a second-innings 116 at Perth - his fourth ton in just his 12th Test.
“We got totally outplayed by a very good team,” he recalled. “If the game ever got close, a couple of those games, Adelaide for example, we played very well for four days, but when it mattered most their class came through.
“Melbourne as well we had them under pressure. I know we were bowled out for 160, but we had them 20 for two or three or something and then a real big partnership from Matthew Hayden (and Andrew Symonds).
“They won the big moments and won them well, and once they got ahead they were absolutely ruthless in destroying us.
“It was a very tough tour as a 21-year-old. I look back at Perth and that hundred, against that bowling attack. It gave me a lot of ‘actually I can play at this level’. I will look back at that hundred especially when I retire ... as a very good moment for my batting. It toughens you up; you realise how hard cricket can be.”