Never mind the predictable gung-ho reactions after the Old Trafford Test match.
Forget all the so-called positives England claim to have taken out of the draw.
Forget Michael Vaughan telling his team huddle pitch-side after Steve Harmison's last ball was blocked by Brett Lee: "When did you ever think you would see an Australian side celebrating a draw? You all know we can beat them and we will."
The reason why Vaughan and his players did not nail down a 2-1 lead in the series was entirely because of three factors, one of which was beyond his control, compared with the other two which were down to his own captaincy failings.
He could and should have orchestrated a better over-rate than 28 overs an hour in the first two sessions, before lunch and between then and tea.
And he missed the biggest trick of all with his defensive field-placings when Andrew Flintoff bowled to Matthew Hayden before lunch immediately after Matthew Hoggard had nipped out Justin Langer with the seventh ball of the day.
Arguably, the biggest factor was that of Shane Warne, whose terrific but luckless bowling on the fourth day forced Vaughan to delay his declaration by at least 30 minutes. His unchanged spell of 25 overs cost only 74 runs when 198 were plundered from the other 36 in the innings, including 115 from Glenn McGrath's 20 overs.
Misguided patriotic views claim that a wicketless Warne on the final day on a turning pitch show that the hardest spinning nut to dent in world cricket in the last 12 years has finally been cracked by home batsmen.
Absolute tripe. He beat Ian Bell four times when playing defensively to the perfect leg-break - pitching middle and beating off stump. He also beat other batsmen nine times, had a catch dropped at slip by Hayden and a gaper of a stumping by Adam Gilchrist.
To finish wicketless was a travesty, especially when McGrath's 28th five-wicket haul included three slogged dismissals. In the context of the desperately close drawn finish, his bowling was as influential as at Lord's and at Edgbaston. Add in his crease occupation and he was at least as deserving of the man of the match award as Ricky Ponting.
At least Vaughan could not control Warne's mammoth effort, but he could the other two factors, which he signally failed to maximise and thus cost his side at least another dozen overs.
Remember that Brett Lee and McGrath had to survive 24 balls instead of at least 96.
Firstly the poor over-rate; England were given a minimum of 98 overs in which to take ten wickets but they fell head first into the trap set by playing conditions in which there is no curfew - they can take as long as they like.
Old habits die hard but surely any attack including a left-arm spinner who bowled 26 of those 98 overs should have bowled more than 98 in seven hours, instead of completing the 98 in seven and a quarter hours. To bowl 56 in the first two two-hour sessions in which they took two five-minute drinks breaks was stupid. It was not a hot day and, anyway, the bowlers were given drinks on the boundary between every over.
Had England done without drinks the Australian batsmen would have claimed them, but two batsmen and two umpires would not have used up more than three minutes; i.e., another saving of two minutes per each of three refreshment breaks. Such a six-minute saving provides two more overs which, added to the extra overs that should have been bowled before 6.30pm, would have given Vaughan and his bowlers so much more elbow room against Lee and McGrath.
As for Vaughan's spaced slip field-placing for Andrew Flintoff bowling to Hayden, it is another example of theory running amok. The arc from wicketkeeper Geraint Jones to gully was four strong but the only area covered by any two fieldsmen was that between keeper and first slip. Through the inviting gaps whistled two knee-high fours from Hayden's edges and a third boundary which bounced short of the slips.
The explanation from Andrew Strauss almost beggars belief.
"The captain does that quite a lot to cover as large an area as possible. At Old Trafford a lot of edges did not carry, so he had us closer and a lot wider."
But why not strengthen the cordon to cover the entire area, especially as Vaughan was positioned at mid-off, where he hardly fields a ball bowled by Flintoff, who is not driven too often.
Even so, as any club captain knows, leave the gap, because such an encouragement to the batsman to drive brings the slips into play much more. If Vaughan really believed his theory, why close the stable door after the herd had bolted by filling in the gaps.
As Ian Chappell pithily observed: "As far as I'm concerned, as a captain you're heading for an early grave if you keep splitting the slips."
As Vaughan rightly claims, England won the Old Trafford Test hands down by points - but, still they have to finish things off, and they know it. The worm of self-doubt is gnawing away because they know the crossing of the winning line is often the hardest thing of all to do.
An unchanged XII was announced yesterday.
Not for 100 years has England remained unchanged in an Ashes series, and then only because Arthur Shrewsbury's 3-2 victorious small party in Australia allowed no unenforced changes.
The pitches have improved for batting throughout this series, with Trent Bridge said to be the best of the lot.
Forget the buzzword " momentum." Both sides know that England should be leading 2-1. But for the weather and Jones's first-innings two howlers, they would still have won.
But, England also know that they could have won, anyway, but for their own failure to maximise the overs they bowled - or rather did not bowl - in Monday's seven-hour day. That kangaroo tail is proving uncomfortably difficult to tie down.