First, win a session. Then another. Then win the day. And maybe, just maybe you might have a chance of winning the match. England have enjoyed few such small victories during this series, but on a day when they claimed Australia's last seven wickets for 67 runs, and Alastair Cook scored a drought-breaking hundred, and England finished the day comfortably at 2 for 192, it was obvious which team had taken the honours. For once, it wasn't Australia.
Of course, much work remained ahead for England. Australia's strong performance on Boxing Day set the platform for a total of 327, and by stumps England were still 135 runs behind. But their position - albeit with the Ashes already in Australian hands - was much healthier than it had been 24 hours earlier. Cook brought up his hundred in the final over of the day by swivelling a pull for four off Steven Smith's legspin, and finished unbeaten on 104 alongside Joe Root on 49.
Cook's performance was significant, for he entered this match having failed to post a half-century in any of his past 10 Test innings - the longest such drought in a career spanning nearly 12 years. Dead rubber though it may be, his free-scoring innings was highly encouraging for England, as he struck 15 boundaries and punished Australia's bowlers through point, straight back down the ground, through leg, and even with the occasional cover-drive.
By the end of the day he had not only made his 32nd Test hundred, he had also moved past Mahela Jayawardene and into eighth position on the list of all-time Test run scorers. The Australians shook Cook's hand as he walked off at stumps but they must also have rued giving him a life on 66 when he edged Mitchell Marsh and Smith, standing very close at first slip, failed to cling on to a challenging catch.
On a very hot day when the fast bowlers baked and Pat Cummins struggled with an upset stomach, it took a brilliant catch for Australia to claim their first wicket of the innings. For the second time in the series Nathan Lyon plucked a return chance with one hand, this time off the leading edge of Mark Stoneman, who had made 15.