Peter Richards is ready to stake an early claim for World Cup recognition on Sunday - eight years after his grisly eyewitness view of England's darkest hour.
The Gloucester scrum-half has been handed a Test debut opposite the most capped player in rugby union history - Wallabies skipper George Gregan - when England target only a third victory over Australia Down Under.
Fellow England newcomers Alex Brown and Magnus Lund join Richards in the starting line-up, which features just three survivors from the world champions' last game.
Only wing Tom Voyce, hooker Lee Mears and flanker Lewis Moody started the RBS Six Nations Championship finale against Ireland in March, but England's 16-Test World Cup countdown begins at Telstra Stadium this weekend with Richards determined to make an impression.
He was a raw 20-year-old when England embarked on their so-called 'Tour from Hell' in 1998, a trip which began with Australia running riot to the tune of 76-0 in Brisbane.
That Suncorp Stadium humiliation remains easily England's record defeat, and although Richards played only a limited part on tour, he has never forgotten it.
"It is nice to be back in totally different circumstances, and I am really looking forward to it," he said, after beating off challenges from fellow uncapped scrumhalves Nick Walshe and Scott Bemand for a starting place.
"I think the approach is a lot different now.
"The strength in depth, maybe, in English rugby at the time wasn't as strong as it is now, and although we have left guys at home we have come out here with a team that can seriously compete.
"Going into the game, I am very positive and looking to pick up a victory."
With World Cup winners Matt Dawson and Kyran Bracken both retired, and Leicester's Harry Ellis yet to pin down the successor's role, Richards knows scrum-half is a position potentially up for grabs.
Ellis, alongside more than a dozen England regulars this season, has not travelled to Australia, so Richards under-stands he could make a strong statement by performing well opposite 118 times-capped Gregan.
Since the miserable 1998 excursion, he has had spells with Harlequins, Bristol, Wasps and currently Gloucester, and Richards admitted: "I have been in the wilderness for a little while.
"But I am slowly working my way back, and this is a golden opportunity.
"I knew I wasn't going to play for England in the centre [a position he often filled at Wasps], and if I wanted to play for England then it would be in the No 9 shirt.
"I had a lame year at Bristol three years ago, but it has been a steady progress since then."
Apart from selecting rookies Richards, Brown and Lund, England head coach Andy Robinson's line-up includes recalls for 35-year-old Leicester prop Graham Rowntree and London Irish centre Mike Catt - five months Rowntree's junior - with Catt partnering gifted Newcastle prospect Mathew Tait in midfield.
Robinson has also played down injury concerns surrounding Richards and skip-per Pat Sanderson ahead of the Telstra Stadium showdown.
Neither player trained yesterday, with Richards nursing a minor wrist problem and Sanderson suffering from stiffness. But Robinson is confident they will not follow James Simpson-Daniel out of contention for the Telstra Stadium encounter.
Simpson-Daniel was expected to pin down a wing berth alongside Wasps' Tom Voyce, but he has once again been left cursing his luck.
Simpson-Daniel, whose international career has previously been stalled by a back injury and glandular fever, was admitted to hospital in Sydney on Tuesday after suffering a dead leg during training.
Manchester-born Lund, the 6ft 3in son of a Norwegian basketball international, produced an immense display when Sale Sharks were crowned Premiership champions by defeating Leicester at Twickenham last month.
He has been named, though, in the No 6 shirt, with Moody at seven and Wasps World Cup winner Joe Worsley resigned to probably winning his 50th cap from the bench.
"This is an opportunity for Magnus, who has had a superb season," said Robinson.
"And (Gloucester lock) Alex Brown would have played during the autumn Tests, but he picked up an injury. He has been knocking on the door since 2001, and this is his chance to step up."
Elsewhere, Catt will enjoy a first England start since the 51-15 defeat against Australia in Brisbane two years ago, making his 66th appearance to move ninth on the all-time England list.