Six months after one of the biggest crises in Australian cricket history, the national selectors are preparing to unveil arguably the nation's weakest Test squad since the defections to World Series Cricket.
In what shapes as a brave new dawn, replacements for suspended batsmen Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft and injured fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will be named in a touring party to face Pakistan in two Tests in the United Arab Emirates next month.
Selectors Trevor Hohns, Greg Chappell and Justin Langer will convene on Tuesday, with new captain Tim Paine's deputy also a point of discussion, although that role won't be confirmed for at least another week.
It could be argued not since the defections to World Series Cricket in 1977 that Australia has been without four of its elite players at once - in this case Smith, Warner, Hazlewood and Cummins. Bancroft had still been finding his way before he was banned for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March.
The suspensions and injuries mean there are a handful of bolters in contention. As reported by Fairfax Media on Sunday, South African-born Queensland batsman Marnus Labuschagne is in the frame, while South Australian captain Travis Head, Victorian paceman Chris Tremain, Queensland's Michael Neser and fellow Bull Brendan Doggett are also in the mix. Those five men have also impressed on the Australia A tour of India, which finished on Monday. Veteran quick Peter Siddle also has claims.
Mitchell Starc will spearhead the attack, while uncapped WA quick Jhye Richardson, who toured South Africa, is seen by state officials as Starc's logical new-ball partner. Richardson's pace through the air and ability to extract reverse swing is seen as a major weapon.
Tremain was the leading wicket-taker (51 at 21.07) in the Sheffield Shield last season, ahead of Neser, with 39 at 21.84.
Nathan Lyon will lead the tourists' spin attack, with Victorian left-arm spinner Jon Holland, having claimed nine wickets against India A last week, also to play a prominent role. WA allrounder Ashton Agar shapes as the third spinner on what will be the turning decks of Dubai and Abu Dhabi where Australia will seek its first series win in Asia since 2011.
Queenslander Matthew Renshaw, who returned to the side for the final Test in South Africa, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh are likely to fill the top three spots in the order while Joe Burns, an incumbent Test opener, could also be retained. Victorian Aaron Finch, Australia's Twenty20 captain, also has claims.
However, Peter Handscomb's poor form for Australia A in India has become a concern. He was bowled for eight in the second - and final - tour match in Alur which ended on Monday, leaving him with 20 runs across five innings in India.
Handscomb had been the obvious replacement for Smith at No.4, although his ability to be a reserve wicketkeeper - he had taken the gloves in Alur - could help his cause.
Batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who can supply handy off-spin, and all-rounder Mitch Marsh are expected to be the middle-order planks, with Paine at No.7.
Mitch Marsh shapes as the logical vice-captain. He is skipper of WA and the Perth Scorchers and led Australia A in India.
Top-order batsman Labuschagne, 24, has long been seen as a Test prospect. He made 60 and 37 against India A in Bengaluru but fell for a duck in the first innings in Alur. Highly regarded for his composure and smarts, he was the second leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season, with 795 runs at 39.75, with two centuries.
Labuschagne and his family shifted to Australia when he was 10. He had spoken Afrikaans growing up, becoming only fluent in English in his adopted nation.
Marsh confirmed his all-round status with an unbeaten century and a return to the bowling crease for Australia A. After a disappointing opening match, he rediscovered his touch with the bat, while his bowling was particularly crucial to the balance of the Test squad, for it could allow Australia to field three spinners. He had not taken the ball in a match since undergoing ankle surgery after the ill-fated tour of South Africa.
Marsh claimed the opening wicket on Monday but had been restricted to 15 overs in the innings to ensure he was not overloaded in his return.
"It was a pretty planned out process from when I had ankle surgery until the day before I left (for India). It was a case of building up my running fitness and my strength and building up over the five months," he said.
Jon Pierik is a sports writer with The Age, focusing primarily on AFL football, cricket and basketball. He has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.