It did not quite rank alongside the disaster in Dunedin or the surrender in Ahmedabad but England's tame and, at times, outright sloppy batting performance on the opening day of the Ashes was continuing unwelcome evidence of first-day blues.
Any damage with the bat was swiftly remedied with the ball thanks to a late charge from England's bowlers but that should not obscure memories of a tense batting performance that was worryingly on trend. Ghosts that were supposed to have been exorcised in recent months appeared to be coming back to haunt Alastair Cook's team as they continued a recent habit of starting slowly.
England's rise to the No1 Test side in the world, taking in back-to-back Ashes victories along the way, during the Andrew Strauss/Andy Flower era was based not only on a fearsome bowling attack but on building solid totals to give them a base from which to work.
Those totals were to be underpinned by the kind of innings that Graham Gooch has dubbed "Daddy hundreds". Strauss, Cook and Kevin Pietersen were all keen proponents of the art. That talent has deserted them in recent times and Matt Prior admitted on the first morning that England had rarely played their best cricket on the opening day of any recent Test. Of England's last six first-innings totals, four have been below 250 and over the past 18 months a graph of their first-innings scores resembles the wavy line on a heart monitor. Among them, in the debit column, was that horror show in Dunedin when the tourists were skittled for 167.
Things began badly then, with Nick Compton playing on to his own stumps with only five on the board, and got worse from there. As was the case on Wednesday Jonathan Trott was England's top scorer but failed to reach 50. It was a similar story in Auckland on what became an ill-starred tour when England, chasing New Zealand's first-innings 443, registered 204 as Trent Boult helped himself to five wickets on a placid pitch.
Against the same opposition at Lord's this year England could manage only 232 in the first innings. And again, at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on the ultimately successful tour of India last year, England's batting order suffered collective paralysis to record 191, as Matt Prior top scored with 48.
Before that, in Sri Lanka, there was a first-innings total of 193 in Galle that led to England losing the first Test. A pattern may be detected, even if those performances were interspersed with some bigger numbers.
It was maintained in Nottingham. Whether it was nerves, a determination to impose themselves on proceedings under grey skies or a ball that was moving with surprising unpredictability, too many of England's batsmen surrendered their wickets cheaply.
Australia's earlier wayward bowling, epitomised by James Pattinson's opening-ball wide, began to give way to something more constructive. But in the main England's downfall was of their own making. Pietersen, emboldened by three swift boundaries into playing a loose shot, and Trott, who played well enough before cracking the ball on to his own stumps for one of Peter Siddle's five wickets, were among those who left the field shaking their heads. Ian Bell, who edged a Siddleoutswinger to slip, and Prior, caught at cover off the 28-year-old fast bowler, likewise succumbed to loose shots.
Some nervous shots, combined with smart fielding off some still wayward but occasionally inspired bowling, saw England tumble from 98 for two at lunch to 215 all out. The last four wickets – Stuart Broad, Jonny Bairstow, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann – fell for two runs, as the mood of the England fans darkened to match the skies.
As in New Zealand, England went into this far more important series as heavy favourites and there was a creepingfeeling that they could be ambushed again. A first innings of less than 200 has, in the main, meant defeat for England over the past five years and only their success in scraping past that landmark offered comfort.
The England supporters who thronged across the Trent had started the day in good cheer but became increasingly skittish as the day wore on and their side's curious first-innings curse returned.
The green and gold clad Fanatics, by turn, were unexpectantly jubilant, before the mood turned again thanks to Finn and Jimmy Anderson. Yet, however this Test ultimately finishes after a breathless opening day, the cause of England's first-innings malaise will be something that Flower and Cook are only too keen to diagnose before it becomes terminal.
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