Darren Lehmann's real victory has been in repairing and reinventing the team dynamics, making players want to play for each other, and for him. Photo: Getty Images
If there is one word that sums up Australia's year of Test cricket, it is "contrast".
From the devastation of Hyderabad and Lord's to the utter jubilation of Brisbane and Adelaide, it has been one heck of a ride.
As players sat on the floor of the new Adelaide Oval dressing room on Monday, soaking up their latest thrashing of England, the woe they had endured this year could hardly have been further from their minds.
It is easy to forget it is only nine months ago that the national team sank to a crippling low.
Too much is made of the "homework" affair, in which four players were sensationally stood down from the third Test in India. It was not in itself the reason for the team's sharp decline, simply the point where the deep problems within it were laid bare.
What the episode uncovered was evidence of a team and an organisation, Cricket Australia, that had lost the plot.
So what has changed? Well, just about everything.
For starters, the whole idea of rebuilding has gone out the window. There was a school of thought, voiced by at least one selector, that if two candidates for the Test team were of similar ability and in comparable form, then they would always go for the younger one.
Former coach Mickey Arthur, a good man blamed for much more than he deserved, even indicated after his sacking in June that Australia had not really considered itself much of a chance in the Ashes series in England this year, and the idea was to gain confidence in order to spring an upset here.
As it turns out, that is exactly what it has done, or nearly done.
New coach Darren Lehmann is all about here and now. It's why Ryan Harris was never going to be rested in Adelaide despite the murmurings that he might be. Better to throw him at England again, in the hope of going 2-0 up, than preserve him for Perth.
"At the moment we're just thinking about Perth on Friday," said one of Lehmann's lieutenants, bowling coach Craig McDermott. "We're not worrying about the next series in South Africa, or who is going to the IPL or whatever. We don't really care about any of that."
Players are also feeling more comfortable about their positions, which is doing wonders for self-belief.
Easy to say when a team is winning, of course, but gone are the wildcard selections of Maxwell, Doherty, Agar or, as was mooted before this series, Fawad Ahmed. The funky stuff has been shelved and the best XI is being picked.
It might contain two 36-year-olds and six others who are the wrong side of 31, but Lehmann has realised it's not his primary job to plan for five years down the track or worry about a player's date of birth. Simon Katich, it can be assumed, would never have been shown the door in this set-up.
After fielding 16 players in four matches in India and 17 in five Tests in England, there is a much-needed stability. Again, this seems straightforward while the team is winning, but in August Lehmann forecast an intention to "pick and stick" this summer whatever the result, which is what former players from Ricky Ponting down were crying out for Australia to do.
And before Brisbane, the Australians named just a 12-man squad, nothing like the excessive 17 who were listed prior to England's last visit three years ago, and not even the 13-man group it was suspected it might settle on.
Elsewhere, the sports science side of the team's activities – the wellbeing charts filled out daily, the "informed player management" policy – is still there in the background but it is not getting the focus it did previously, mainly because CA is not pushing those messages any more.
Pat Howard, Lehmann's boss and CA's general manager of team performance, has taken a noticeable backwards step, at least publicly. During the Arthur-Michael Clarke duopoly he was everywhere, right down to engaging in a slanging match with Shane Watson that was played out in the media after the Mohali fiasco.
Lehmann's real victory, though, has been in repairing and reinventing the team dynamics, making players want to play for each other, and for him.