England showed captain Alastair Cook a new resilience to beat Pakistan at Edgbaston, and put themselves in with a chance of topping the world Test rankings this summer.
Cook's men appeared washed up after two days of the third Investec Test, and conceded a three-figure first-innings deficit.
But England battled back to prevail by 141 runs and can therefore return to the top of the International Cricket Council table for the first time since 2012 by beating Pakistan again next week - as long as India do not win the final two Tests of their series in the West Indies.
All-rounder Moeen Ali was named man of the match, but any one of at least three others might have won that accolade in a match containing seven England half-centuries - while each of their frontline bowlers took at least two wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 201 on the fifth evening.
An unassailable 2-1 lead, with one Test remaining, is an especially gratifying outcome for Cook. He said: "It's right up there... I was really proud of the way we hung in there all game."
It proved to Cook that England can still be successful even if they do not take charge from the outset. He said: "This is the first one in a while we've been behind in and fought back.
"I saw the guys determined to do what we'd spoken about, and that's pleasing as a captain."
As for impending No.1 status, Cook will be prepared to play the long game again if necessary. He added: "If we become No.1 at The Oval, that's fantastic - but it will be a bit of an irrelevance, because this side has still got much further to go. If we do win there, I wouldn't say we are anywhere near our potential."