England's one-day squad returned from Pakistan yesterday with much pride restored and one or two precious extra pieces of knowledge in their locker too.
Every member of a team outplayed by Pakistan learned a thing or two about how to compete against one of the best limited-overs teams in the world.
From stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick down to less familiar names like Worcestershire's Kabir Ali and even veteran Shaun Udal, the five-match series against hosts who have won ten of their last 12 one-day matches was a valuable, if not successful, exercise.
After England had dug deep on Wednesday to salvage an unlikely six-run win and narrow the margin of defeat to only 3-2, Trescothick hinted he might re-think his initial reluctance to captain on a more permanent basis should he be required.
If he was on a learning curve, the same could be said about all the players who did their best in difficult conditions.
Liam Plunkett, the 20-year-old pace bowler, can bat and did enough in each department to merit certain inclusion in the build up to next year's Champions' Trophy and World Cup 2007.
Plunkett can contribute one way or another in most matches. When he has conceded runs he has chipped in with handy runs down the order.
His unexpected late flurry on Wednesday was as responsible for a morale-boosting win as was an encouragingly sturdy performance under pressure from England's attack.
Chief among those to impress in defending a moderate total was James Anderson, whose loss of form had become one of the sorriest sights in international cricket. It is too early yet to trumpet the return of the breath-of-fresh-air pace bowler England first got rightly excited about in 2003 but Anderson, still only 23, may be on the way back.
Ian Blackwell also provided coach Duncan Fletcher, Trescothick and injured captain Michael Vaughan with glimpses of what he can do at the highest level.
On a spin-ner's pitch the slow left-armer found enough turn to unsettle and becalm batsmen who were set and seemed likely to help Pakistan coast home on Wednesday.
In England's defeat at the same venue two days earlier, Blackwell's stronger batting suit could easily have helped Kabir snatch a series-levelling success . . . had he not run himself out when set.
England must by now be well aware of Blackwell's all-round potential as well as the pressing need for him to harness his qualities before it is too late.
Off-spinner Udal, meanwhile, may find time is running out - but at least after his call-up on Wednesday he has had a belated second taste of one-day international cricket and will be all the wiser if used in India in the spring.
Perhaps England's biggest failing - honestly identified by Trescothick - was a lack of runs at the top of the order.
The Somerset left-hander was off colour by his own admission; the experiment of opening alongside the attack-minded Matthew Prior provided initial promise but ultimately left the Sussex wicketkeeperbatsman needing to bounce back, and Andrew Strauss had a largely disappointing tour.
A lean series for the likes of Strauss and Trescothick is not a long-term worry for England, though.
The absences through injury of key men like Vaughan, Warwickshire's Ashley Giles and particularly Kevin Pietersen may also prove a blessing in time - because their temporary unavailability gave chances to other potential World Cup players.
However, England were no match for a much-improved Pakistan in their own backyard and the mauling in the third one-dayer in Karachi was especially dispiriting. But when Fletcher, Vaughan and Trescothick review the series there will be much to cheer . . . and less to ponder than beforehand. ..SUPL: