SLOW learners, the Poms, with short memories.
That is the only conclusion Sporting Declaration can reach after watching Steve Smith pound them remorselessly to help Australia claim an Ashes-retaining 2-1 lead in the series.
To be fair, perhaps before a cover drive was hit in anger England gave themselves a chance.
Smith, of course, had spent a year in purgatory, during which time he underwent elbow surgery.
Maybe he wouldn't be the same player?
Moreover, with a Dukes ball, in English conditions, the Poms presumably fancied their chances, especially given an attack expected to feature Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Board and their new "overseas player", Jofra Archer.
But by the end of the first innings at Edgbaston, they should surely have seen enough.
Smith rattled up 144, Anderson succumbed to injury, and at that point it was blatantly obvious how this was likely to unfold.
But for some reason, the Poms kept backing themselves in, apparently oblivious to the theory that the definition of madness is to keep going through the same process, over and over, hoping for a different outcome.
So Smith followed up with 142 in the second innings and then 92 at Lord's, before an Archer bouncer sconed him and provided England with some respite at Headingley, which he missed through concussion.
Normal service resumed at Old Trafford with 211 and 82, taking his his series tally to 671 at 134.20, which is remarkably similar to the 137.40 average he posted during the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia.
All of which leaves me wondering when England will realise they are wasting their time and just accept that their only option is to simply stop trying to get Smith out.
Well the trouble is England are using conventional logic to counter an unconventional player.
They're clinging to the belief that it only takes one ball to dismiss any batsman.
Early in his innings, in particular, he might nick one, or play down the wrong line and find himself plumb in front. So they're desperate to knock him over before he's "in" and away.
But they need to start thinking outside the square.
My tactics would be, when he arrives at the crease, to give Broad and Archer one over each at him. Six balls apiece - two bouncers and four yorkers directed at middle stump.
If he's still there, then they'd be directed to bowl a metre outside off stump, every ball, full of a length.
I'd start with a seven-two off-side field. A couple of slips, a gully, a point, cover point, shortish cover and mid-off, with a man at forward square leg and one at mid-wicket. If he slashed anything over the off-side ring, I'd drop a sweeper back on the cover boundary, and possibly shift second slip to third man.
If the bowlers were disciplined enough, I'd even bring over another man onto the off side and make it an eight-one field.
Negative? Maybe so, but at least that's going to make it hard for him to score freely.
Indeed, there was a brief period at Old Trafford when it seemed a similar strategy was having some effect.
Smith, at the time, was 180-odd not out, and Craig Overton started bowling well outside off stump. He even got called for a couple of wides. Smith seemed at least slightly frustrated. He can't score if he can't reach the ball. The trouble was that Overton dropped one or two short, and Smith pulled them through the leg side for four.
You're probably thinking that won't make a lot of difference. Smith will just wait for the right ball to hit. He'll be too patient for the Poms.
After all, he's the best batsman since Bradman.
But is he? Really?
There's no doubt he's a run machine with the greatest century ratio and average of any player since the Don.
But I still believe the best three batsmen I've seen are Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Viv Richards.
Lara scored match-winning centuries against Australia when our attack comprised the likes of McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and Warne. He scored 400 not out against the same England fast bowlers who won the 2005 Ashes.
Tendulkar scored 100 international centuries in Tests and one-dayers, 66 more than Smith has to his name.
And Viv was without doubt the most dominant batsman in the world for at least a decade.
The English bowling line-up in this series is handy, without doubt.
But how would Smithy have fared against the West Indies in the mid-1980s, with Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh charging in?
How would he have coped with Wasim Akram zeroing in on his leg stump, swinging it both ways, and Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar nudging 100 miles an hour at the other end?
Or against Lillee and Thommo, with no helmet?
Such a challenge might have raised his game to an even higher level, or alternatively maybe they would have found a chink in his armour.
Smith could well be scoring centuries against the Poms for another decade. I'm happy to reserve my judgement for a little while longer.