On an unseasonably chilly summer's day in Adelaide, England couldn't catch a cold and Australia could thank its lucky stars.
Michael Clarke's side was let off the hook after the visitors dropped three key chances – including a sitter in the dying stages of a delicately balanced first day – that would have left the host in deep trouble in the second Test.
Australia resumes at 5-273 on Friday, with a stubborn Clarke holding the fort on 48 not out, but its ambitions of taking a 2-0 lead in the Ashes could have ended up in the dust of the Adelaide Oval drop-in had it not been for the butter-fingers of the England fieldsmen.
The captain himself was put down when on 18, although Joe Root's diving effort at mid-wicket was by far the most difficult of the trio of opportunities.
England may rue its profligacy in not seizing on the other two. First, George Bailey was dropped on 10 by the recalled Monty Panesar, with the Tasmanian going on to help restore Australia's wobbly first innings with an entertaining 53, his first Test half-century. Then, shortly before stumps, Michael Carberry failed to complete a simple, chest-high catch at backward point that would have sent Brad Haddin (7 not out) on his way cheaply.
Panesar, having earlier put down the return catch from Bailey, was the bowler again and could barely believe his eyes when Carberry let the straightforward chance fall to the recently laid Adelaide turf. "Particularly with first-innings runs it could prove to be crucial," said Australian opener Chris Rogers, who top scored with 72.
"We still have to field well and catch them but those chances have helped us. To have Michael going out there tomorrow morning is massive for us."
Carberry is renowned as an excellent fielder and was the most unlikely candidate to spill the beans.
"Obviously he's disappointed," said England spinner Graeme Swann, who bucked the trend to take a superb catch late in the day to finish off Bailey. "Carbs has taken some unbelievable catches so no one is having a go at him at all."
Clarke, not for the first time, looms as Australia's most important asset in its quest to set a total of match-winning proportions on a flat Adelaide track.
He played responsibly after his team had blown a great start via a collapse that may have triggered some bad memories if they had not already been revived in Adelaide.
As Darren Lehmann was introduced to the stage at the annual South Australian Cricket Association pre-Test dinner this week a video package was played of the awful fourth-day capitulation in Durham in August.
The events before tea in Adelaide on Thursday were nowhere near as dramatic or disastrous but cruising on the new drop-in deck at 1-155, Australia's habit of surrendering wickets in clumps reared its ugly head again, as it lost 2-0 in two overs as steady pair Shane Watson (51) and Rogers exited in successive overs, and then 3-19 when Steve Smith (6) followed at the hands of Panesar soon afterwards. Before the Australians knew it they had slumped to 4-174 and the monster first-innings total promised with the flip of a coin in the morning was in grave health.
The Adelaide track was not dissimilar to the ones in India on which Bailey was prolific in the one-day series that earned him a Test call-up and he took the same approach with three sixes, two off Panesar and one off Stuart Broad. In an innings in which he lived by the sword, it was appropriate that he might die by it. It took a top-shelf grab to seal his fate when he went after Broad again, but Swann's outstretched palms at square-leg were up to the task.