Ashes build-ups are never straightforward, but the countdown to Wednesday's first Test at the Gabba has been utterly bizarre.
In no particular order, we've seen the former Australian captain Tim Paine resign from his post in disgrace after the sending of a lewd picture to a former colleague became public knowledge, a racism scandal which has rocked English cricket to its core and star all-rounder Ben Stokes fearing for his life after almost choking on a tablet in his hotel room.
That's not to mention the full effects of La Nina severely impacting England's on-field preparation, a broken arm scare (also involving Stokes), and the assumption of captaincy duties by squeaky clean fast bowler Pat Cummins.
What it all means when the first ball is sent down next week is anyone's guess.
Warm favouritism to retain the Ashes rightly sits with Australia, but you can't help but feel there's a summer upset blowing in on those British-esque grey skies which seem to have assumed an unusually high level of prevalence lately.
England will very much fancy their chances in this scenario.
Those grey clouds will turn evergreen spearhead Jimmy Anderson into an even more frightening prospect than normal.
Captain Joe Root will be desperate to win the Ashes back for his country, and his 2021 form with the bat suggests he's capable of emulating predecessor Alastair Cook's gluttonous Australian summer a decade ago where he plundered 766 runs to lead his side to its last ever series win on Australian soil.
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Proud Yorkshireman Root also goes into this series as his home county remains mired in scandal, stemming from former teammate Azeem Rafiq's explosive revelation of the frequent racism he experienced while playing for the club.
But it might just be Stokes who emerges as the biggest thorn in Australia's side.
For a long while it looked as if the 30-year-old would not even make the trip this summer.
He hasn't played since July, after taking a break for mental health reasons, and to deal with a broken finger that required two surgeries to repair.
England fans rejoiced when he jumped on the plane to Australia, but a troublesome tablet ingested on Sunday morning in his hotel room almost had catastrophic consequences for the fiery all-rounder.
"Until it actually came out, I thought, 'This might be the end'," Stokes wrote in his Evening Standard newspaper column.
Fears Stokes also suffered a broken arm while batting in the nets were also placated this week, and the rangy redhead from Durham who spectacularly won England the World Cup in 2019 is expected to line up at the Gabba.
Sydney Thunder keeper Sam Billings issued a frank assessment of his limited-overs international teammate.
"Big-game player," Billings told The Canberra Times.
"He's one of the kind of cricketers of a generation. It's just great to see him back training, back in the England side.
"Any team with Ben Stokes in it is a much better team. He's a great bloke and as a fan I'm just so happy to see him back in the game of cricket."
Australia is also not without its trumps.
Newly-anointed keeper Alex Carey arguably offers more with the gloves and the bat than the ageing Paine, who had served his country admirably in its time of need before his swift exit.
David Warner and Steve Smith are prolific run-scorers in Australian summers, and still good enough to simply keep the Ashes out of England's reach - should they fire. Ditto Marnus Labuschagne.
But there's potentially a soft underbelly should Australia's star men fail to fire, and the likes of Root, Stokes and Anderson will be quick to pounce should it be exposed.
Almost anything could happen in Brisbane, come Wednesday.
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