Cook sights on Ashes glory
Alastair Cook's England are about to embark on a Herculean feat of endurance which they hope will eventually deliver double Ashes glory.
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There will not be 12 labours for England's cricketers, over the next 10 months, but instead 15 Tests - starting against New Zealand - in which they must set and maintain their highest standards.
Whether they can do so, and stay fit, will doubtless be career-defining.
For Cook himself, the challenge is even more onerous.
The captain must lead, plot and inspire, switch between formats - there is the small matter of a Champions Trophy on home soil thrown into the bargain next summer too - while ensuring throughout he never loses that priceless habit of churning out the runs which got him into this position in the first place.
He could be forgiven, you might think, for feeling a little daunted about the responsibilities stretching in front of him.
If Cook's public assurances are to be taken on face value, however, no such thought has occurred to him.
"It's actually a great challenge for us as a side to see what we can do in these 15 Test matches.
"I don't think any England side has had the opportunity to play two back-to-back Ashes series - and play New Zealand as well - so we have the chance to do something very special.
"But it's only a chance if we perform to the level we can; if we don't, we'll get found out."
The most difficult task of all will be borne not just by Cook and his team-mates, but the management and specialist medical staff whose expertise will help determine the extent and impact of inevitable injuries.
Cook knows there will have be personnel changes, enforced and otherwise, long before England make it anywhere near the finish line in Sydney.
Graeme Swann's elbow and Stuart Broad's heel spring to mind immediately at the top of a long list of concerns which are an occupational hazard for any cricket team - let alone one set to play a scheduled 75 days of Test cricket by next January.
"It would be very naive of me to sit here and say we're going to use the same 11 players for those 15 games - that just doesn't happen," said Cook.
"In an ideal world, you would. But we know how injury, especially for fast bowlers, plays a very important part."
He is confident nonetheless that England have the resources of talent, below the current first-choice team, to fill the gaps.
"I think we're very lucky with the strength in depth (we have) in that (pace) department, and we can rotate players if we need to or - if someone gets injured - replace them with a guy of very similar ability and class.
"That's a comforting place to be as a squad."
England cannot afford to be star-gazing yet about what lies ahead next summer and beyond - and under the eye of coach Andy Flower, it is unlikely they will undermine the grand plan by allowing eyes to wander off the ball against New Zealand.
Cook too will happily keep reminding them that they must concentrate on the here and now at Dunedin's University Oval - where they will be out to consolidate their historic series win in India before Christmas, and put last week's warm-up defeat against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown well behind them.
"Anyone who knows Andy Flower, and has seen the way he's operated over the years, will know no ounce of complacency will be allowed.
"We were a little bit sloppy in that warm-up game, but actually some of the stuff that came out of it was really positive as well.
"For me personally to see, for example, Stuart Broad back bowling quite a lot - he got a bigger workload than we thought, and has pulled through with absolutely no effect to his heel - is great news for us, moving on to the summer as well.
"Yes, we were disappointed to lose that game. But actually it doesn't really matter - the important stuff starts tomorrow."
As for England's exploits on the sub-continent, where Australia's ongoing struggles are shedding an even better light on a first victory in 27 years, Cook will not dwell on what he sees already as past glories.
"What we achieved in India was fantastic.
"We don't need anyone else [Australia] to confirm that to us at all.
"For the group of players who achieved that, especially after going 1-0 down, it was great.
"Unfortunately, that's now gone and in the past. There's no point looking back at it now; we've got to look forward to this New Zealand series."
He does dare to consider what might follow too, but not to the detriment of England's prospects in three Tests here and then two back at home against the Kiwis before those Ashes series begin.
"On the Test front, we've got a huge year.
"It's great to be involved in it, as well as the one-day cricket with the Champions Trophy as well.
"This is a really exciting time to be an English cricketer."