That harsh reality seemed to be dawning on Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, as he complained to the umpires when they decided that the fading light had made conditions too dangerous for play to continue – even with Old Trafford's new floodlights shining brightly – at precisely 4.26pm, with rain starting around half an hour later.
According to the gloomiest forecasts for Monday that might even have marked the end of the match, which would leave England with a 2-0 lead in the series with only two Tests remaining, meaning they retain the Ashes as current holders.
Even if the predictions prove hopelessly wrong, and play starts on time, Clarke will be forced to declare Australia's second innings on 172 for seven, with a lead of 331, and ask his bowlers to dismiss England inside 90 overs – on an Old Trafford pitch which remains mostly reliable.
"Michael was a little bit annoyed," confirmed David Warner, Australia's top-scorer with 41 having been restored to the top of the order before he was caught, to much amusement, by Joe Root, his old sparring partner in Birmingham's Walkabout bar.
"Yeah, hooked another one to Rooty," he later reflected with a wide grin.
Warner also accused England of time-wasting in an effort to delay Australia's declaration and suggested that their captain, Alastair Cook, may face punishment from the International Cricket Council for a desultory over rate of 12.2 per hour. "We expected that," he added. "We knew the bowlers were going to take their time. The decision they reviewed off me was a massive time-waster. They walked in a circle and actually said, 'Let's just hold it back a bit.'
"Broady, as well walking from fine-leg to his mark, he took his time. Me and Ussy [Usman Khawaja, with whom he added 51 for the second wicket] were talking about what we were going to have for dinner.
"The captain suffers from that. He'll miss a game if he's time-wasting or if the overs aren't bowled in the time allocated. That will come back to bite them on the bum."
That decision will be made by the ICC match referee, Ranjan Madugalle, who was not available for comment.
England's vice-captain, Matt Prior, defended their over rate and said that retaining the Ashes by default, courtesy of Mancunian drizzle, would do nothing to dampen the team's satisfaction.
"We controlled our over rate," Prior admitted. "[But] at no point did we want to take it too far or anything. I don't think we bowled too slowly. We obviously weren't going to be racing through our overs trying to get as many in as we could.
"Again it's a balancing act. But what you want to do in those situations as well is make sure that you are getting it right – you want to make sure that you take your time and get it right because you don't want to have a session where the batters can get away from you and suddenly you're batting for longer than you want to be. So it is important that you do get your tactics right in that situation as well.
"We'd be more than happy, if it did [rain all day]. But it was meant to start at 1pm today and it didn't. Forecasts in England are pretty good at being wrong and it would be very dangerous for us to rely on them.
"We have to steel ourselves and prepare as though we are going into a full day's cricket. We know what is at the end of the line for us but it goes back to one ball at a time and keeping it simple.
"We have become tough to be beat. Unfortunately we have been in this position a few times in the recent past and we will have a lot of confidence we can save the day. It is still a very good wicket. The key to it will be getting through the new ball."
Prior went further than any other England player in recent weeks in confirming their growing dissatisfaction at the decision review system, or more specifically its implementation, after they were convinced Warner should have been given out, caught behind, early in his innings.
"There was disbelief because he hit it and that's why we referred it. When you are that sure and it is still given not out it is quite frustrating," added the wicketkeeper.
"It's cricket isn't it, at the moment? I think it is pretty frustrating for everyone. Once you use a review you have to then get the decision right. Once it goes up to the third umpire the decision that comes out has to be the correct decision. Whether the technology has to be looked at or how they use the technology I don't know but that for the players at the moment is the biggest frustration."
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