Chris Rogers' maiden Test century at the age of almost 36 gave Australia a hard-earned advantage over England at Chester-le-Street.
Rogers' journeyman career first took him from his native Sydney to Western Australia, and has since included stints with four English counties.
There were some tortuous moments too in his 227-ball hundred on day two of this fourth Investec Test, especially the 19 deliveries he spent on 96 against Graeme Swann before becoming the second-oldest Australian to hit his first Test century.
None of his compatriots were complaining as Rogers (101no) stood firm, initially against Stuart Broad (four for 48), and then shared a fifth-wicket stand of 129 with Shane Watson (68) out of 222 for five in reply to England's 238 all out.
It was hard going at times after Broad saw off David Warner and Usman Khawaja with the score stuck on 12, and then added the prize scalp of Michael Clarke as Australia made a nightmare start.
Rogers was dropped by Swann at second slip off Broad for 49, but was admirably watchful throughout - bringing to bear all those years of experience in English cricket, including in Minor Counties with Shropshire for good measure - to cope in conditions beyond several of his team-mates.
Before today, he had made more runs against Australia than for them thanks to his double-century for a Leicestershire team containing a teenage Broad, who hosted the 2005 Ashes tourists.
But in his fifth Test, the left-handed opener buried that statistic and put the class of 2013 in position to sustain their fightback after dominating a rain-affected draw at Old Trafford, where they conceded the urn for a third successive time.
The ball jagged around off the pitch under cloudy skies at Durham, conspicuously more so than yesterday and especially in early afternoon.
It was before then that Broad wreaked havoc, however, a testing line his primary virtue in an irresistible morning spell.
A tentative Warner was undone by a delivery he wanted to leave. When he jammed down his forward-defence, it was too late as Broad zoned in on the top of off-stump to bowl him.
Then Khawaja, badly out of form in this series apart from a second-innings 50 at Lord's, also paid for indecision - trying but failing to leave, and getting an involuntary under-edge behind.
Rogers himself escaped Broad only after two reviews both went his way in the same over, on 16 and 20.
England used up their first when Tony Hill gave him out lbw, before Hawk-Eye showed the ball had pitched outside leg.
The second, two balls later, demonstrated a new vagary of the decision review system.
Rogers called for a rethink on Hill's caught-behind decision, and Hot Spot indicated impact with ball on pad only.
When lbw therefore came into the equation, an 'umpire's call' simulated impact with the top of off-stump was no use to England because the initial verdict was for a different mode of dismissal.
Clarke had been the pillar of Australia's resistance in Manchester but he could not make a significant contribution in the first innings here, flapping without foot movement at a wide ball and edging high to Alastair Cook at slip.
Almost everything after lunch belonged to Australia, who lost just one wicket in each of the following sessions.
Steve Smith lasted less than two overs before edging Tim Bresnan low to a diving Matt Prior.
Mere survival seemed a long shot for Rogers and Watson, as the ball seamed with almost comic exaggeration.
Yet survive, and eventually prosper, they did - albeit with a moment of fortune each along the way.
Bresnan put down a sharp caught-and-bowled chance one-handed away to his left when Watson poked one back at him on five.
That would have made it 85 for five; then Rogers had his reprieve just short of his 50, Swann diving one-handed across his captain at slip and failing to hold an edge off Broad which might well have carried to Cook.
Watson, without a half-century in 13 Test innings this year, reached the elusive milestone from 98 balls.
He was unable to convert it to three figures, Broad returning for his first spell from the Lumley end to have him caught-behind down the leg side.
But Rogers at last completed his hundred when he swept Swann for his 13th boundary.
By then there was no doubt Australia were on top after the day started when Jackson Bird claimed England's last wicket without addition to the overnight total in only the second over this morning.