Captain Andrew Strauss billed his unbeaten 161 as the best Test hundred of his career after England's day of two halves against Australia at Lord's.
Strauss' 18th century shaped England's progress in the second npower Ashes contest — sharing in the biggest opening stand against Australia for 18 years with Alastair Cook — but the loss of six wickets for 137 runs in the second half of the day undermined the stunning start.
They resume this morning on 364 for six, intent on passing the 435 they managed in the dramatic drawn opener in Cardiff on Sunday.
“It's got to be right up there,” said Strauss, of his personal contribution.
“An Ashes Test at Lord's is pretty much the number one Test you can play, so to get a hundred on day one is very special.
“Hopefully there is unfinished business and I can go on and get some more runs tomorrow.”
His 196-run alliance with Cook (95) was eventually concluded by erratic left-armer Mitchell Johnson when a full delivery won a straightforward leg before appeal.
Their effort, however, represented the best-ever start to a Lord's Test against the Australians and was the highest anywhere against them since Michael Atherton and Graham Gooch's 203 in Adelaide in 1990-91.
“I really enjoyed the opening partnership and we managed to get some early ascendancy over the Aussies but as is often the case they came back well in that final session,” said Strauss.
“Our position is slightly disappointing from 196 for nought but there are more wicket-taking opportunities here than there were in Cardiff.
“The ball swung around a little bit more and when it swung batting could get quite tricky.”
England's failing in the first Test was for batsmen to get in and not kick on to three figures — in comparison four Australians celebrated centuries.
But Strauss set the tone by hitting his fourth Test hundred at Lord’s and pulling level with Michael Vaughan on 18 overall.
“In terms of setting an example for the batsmen to go big when they get in, it was important,” said Strauss.
“Also, as a captain, you don't want to be scratching around not scoring runs because it adds more pressure when you don't really need more pressure.”
Strauss also skipped past 5,000 runs in just his 64th Test but put his own achievements into perspective in comparison with opposite number Ricky Ponting.
“When you see Ricky has 11,000 runs, then 5000 runs feels like you are just out of nappies, I guess,” he joked.
The morning session proved child's play as Strauss and Cook both latched on to some loose stuff from the inexperienced tourists' attack.
Johnson, who claimed Cook as his 100th Test victim, went for half of the 22 boundaries struck before lunch.
Australia, meanwhile, are hopeful off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who dislocated a finger when he dropped a return chance off Strauss shortly after lunch, will be fit to bowl later in this match.
He attempted to send down a few deliveries after the close but was experiencing discomfort.