The first Test match in Brisbane may be more than six months away but Australia captain Ricky Ponting, still smarting from England's 2-1 Ashes series win last summer, believes the introduction of players such as Mike Hussey will give Australia an edge as they aim to reclaim the famous urn.
Ponting, in Barcelona for today's Laureus World Sport Awards, said: "Last summer, our senior players weren't at their best but we sat down and had a good look at it and found out where the weak links were, and I think we've sorted that out.
"I know the guys are relaxing away from cricket at the moment but we've had a changeover in personnel, we're playing really well and we're all pretty keen looking forward to the Ashes.
"The anticipation will be great, and I understand they've sold loads of tickets for the Boxing Day clash [at Melbourne Cricket Ground].
"There will be bigger grounds this year, so hopefully the excitement will be even greater."
Australia have found their form since last summer's tour of England, with the highlight being a bad-tempered series victory in South Africa.
Australia's promising play with the bat and ball, along with the impact of Hussey, who became the ninth quickest player in history to reach 1,000 Test runs last month, has made Ponting optimistic.
"Mike Hussey has really been a revelation," he said. "He's had to wait for his chance but he adds a real stability to our batting order and his all-round game is very valuable to us. He's a very solid run-scorer.
"I think we're all going to be important at the Ashes and I think we've all done really well over the last few months.
"Against South Africa, Graeme Smith came out and tried to be their statesman and take all of the pressure off his team. It didn't really work, though, because he wasn't good enough to carry the pressure.
"We were tested by South Africa, and found ourselves in some compromising situations, but came through that. I'm confident we're moving in the right direction."