The stage is set for an explosive first Test when the new-look Wallabies and Eddie Jones’ refocused England renew hostilities on Saturday night.
Australia have not played a Test since last year’s World Cup, in which they schooled England in the scrum battle to boot them out of their home tournament in comprehensive and embarrassing fashion.
But an entirely new England, riding high on confidence after a Six Nations grand slam and steeled for revenge by Jones, await at Suncorp Stadium.
Aggression has been the buzzword leading up to the series opener, with both sides clamouring to talk up how hard they intend to hit and how crucial the scrum battle will be.
Jones expects the opening moments will quickly sort the men from the boys.
“The game’s going to go to a different level. Australia’s going to be absolutely rampant,” Jones said.
“This is the first Test they’ve played with expectations on them.
“And knowing Cheik (Wallabies coach Michael Cheika), and this may be one of the advantages we have, we know what they’re team’s going to come out (like) – they’re going to absolutely breathing fire.
“All they want to do is make a physical statement. They want to say ‘we can dominate the scrum’.
“It’s going to be a whole different ball game.”
Skipper Stephen Moore will lead the charge for Australia and his direct battle with his English counterpart, Dylan Hartley, will be telling.
Hartley was not part of England’s World Cup squad, dropped by then-coach Stuart Lancaster after a carry-over suspension from England club rugby ruled him out of their opening game.
But 30-year-old has been anointed national captain by Jones despite a quite incredible record of ill-discipline, with a rap sheet including a total of 54 weeks of suspensions for biting, gouging, punching and referee abuse.
“He’s a good competitor, he’s led that team well through the Six Nations. He’s going to want to lead the team well on this tour,” Moore said.
Moore wants Australia to forget the past, as good as it might be, and “reset the bar” of dominance over England.
Four new faces will help the Wallabies do just that, including 208cm lock Rory Arnold and bustling centre Samu Kerevi, who together add a hardened edge to a side bracing for a battle for the ages.
“We’re actually missing a fair few guys – I think there’s nine from the World Cup squad not there in the backs, but you wouldn’t even notice,” Cheika said.
“It’s not even been talked about once.
“It’s probably not the team I thought would be running out when I came into the Sunshine Coast, but I felt this is a better team than I would have picked at the start.”
AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND – History by the numbers
Overall: Australia 25, England 18, drawn 1
In Australia: Australia 14, England 3
In Brisbane: Australia 4, England 0
Last time: Australia bt England 33-13 at Twickenham, World Cup Pool A, Oct 3, 2015.