Pakistan believe they can find a crack in an Australian cricket team which has spent months on the road during a taxing year, while a standoff is brewing between the host nation's past and current players.
The touring Pakistan side has arrived in Canberra ahead of a vital Prime Minister's XI clash at Manuka Oval beginning on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister's XI have been dealt a blow with Michael Neser ruled out with soreness, opening the door for South Australian Jordan Buckingham to claim a place in the side.
Pakistan have won just four Tests on Australian soil in history, but wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed is confident his side can silence its doubters against an Australian team which has won the World Test Championship in London, defended the Ashes in England, and won a one-day World Cup in India throughout the past six months.
"It's not an upset if you're talking about our team," Ahmed said.
"We have a very settled team if we're talking about our batting and bowling. We want to play good cricket against a top-quality team, so, Inshallah, hope for the best."
The Pakistan series looms as a Test farewell for Australian opener David Warner, whose plans for an SCG send-off next month have been lashed by former teammate Mitchell Johnson.
The former Australian quick rubbished the idea of Warner being allowed to pick his departure date after his role in the sandpaper scandal five years ago and, more recently, dwindling returns in the Test arena.
Johnson's comments have been shot down by Australian chair of selectors George Bailey, who is more concerned with the fitness of Queensland quick Neser in his push to earn a Test recall.
"We're taking a cautious approach with Michael, the elevated risk of potentially another large bowling load in the four-day PM XI's fixture was deemed too high," Bailey said.
"We know Michael is a quality player and we have seen him perform in the Test team. We want to ensure that should the opportunity arise to play more Test cricket this summer that we are giving him the best chance to be ready to perform.
"Over the coming days we will work with the Brisbane Heat's medical team to determine his Big Bash League availability."
Buckingham spent part of the Australian winter in England, playing three games for Northamptonshire, while also suiting up for Australia A against New Zealand A.
The 23-year-old has taken 14 wickets in three Shield games for South Australia this summer, including a career best 7-71 against Tasmania in October.