England began day one at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium with the swagger of a side who were on top of the world; they ended it firmly under the cosh having been comprehensively outplayed.
In front of a farcically sparse crowd in Dubai, England found themselves at 52 for five at lunch as the top order was blown away - no, fell away meekly - against a less-than-vaunted Pakistan bowling attack.
Even the usually unerring Alastair Cook committed an uncharacteristic error of judgement in the length of a fairly innocuous delivery. It was a shock to the system, no doubt about it; England were suddenly under the cosh.
For all England's wretched batting, it was Saeed Ajmal who deserves the attention: the highest wicket-taker in world cricket in 2011 took three wickets in five balls on his way to stunning figures of seven for 55.
What is more, the conditions completely belied the scorecard: it was not a particularly sharp-turning wicket.
The tourists had already lost Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the first hour before all seven spectators had found their seats.
The intervention of Ajmal, who saw off Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen in astonishingly quick succession, suddenly cast a worrying light upon the England batsmen.
Ajmal had taunted England before the series with impish talk of a new mystery delivery in the build-up to this tough examination of their new world-beating credentials; the tourists more than bought into the hype, they bowed to it.
Whether the off-spinner profited from those mind games was a moot point; but either way, clever disguise of his off-breaks, doosras - and maybe even a 'teesra' or two - proved too much for an insipid England.
Ajmal took his 'Michelle Pfieffer' as both Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad sloppily succumbed to lbw dismissals, each attempting reckless, ill-fated sweep shots to the rampant spinner.
In Broad's case, he compounded his shot selection by squandering his side's final review with a frivolous query to further infuriate his coach and captain.
As far as first days on Tour go, this could hardly have been worse for Andy Flower's men.
Pakistan were understandably buoyant at stumps as they basked in the glory of a job well done against the top-ranked side in Test cricket.
Matt Prior, a fairly selfless player who cops a remarkable amount of stick for his aggressive approach, was a lone ranger with his gutsy and unwaveringly disciplined knock.
Prior was left unbeaten on 70 and did not look like getting out until he was stranded at the crease; his effort could yet prove to have not been in vain.
The England wicket-keeper inadvertently summed up his side's failings as he was asked to reflect upon his individual effort: "When you go in at 45 for five, it's hardly time to play your shots. I'm not worried about how many boundaries I hit, it was important to build a partnership."
The only problem for England was that all but Prior failed to heed such advice.
Dubai's International Cricket Stadium became the 65th ground at which England have played a Test match, and it is fair to say that it did not make the most auspicious impression.
It may be modern and plush, but it was also artificial, strange and, worst of all, empty.
When Dubai staged its inaugural Test a couple of years ago and became the 101st Test venue - it was probably the first to have been designed by German architects - but it does not possess any of the charisma or aura of established cricketing stadia.
It rendered the atmosphere entirely soulless and surreal, not conducive to creating an environment suitable for international sport.
But while Pakistan created their own buzz amongst themselves with their spirit and enthusiasm, England matched the atmosphere with a subdued, lifeless display.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Muhammad Ali has reached 70, comfortably outscoring all the English batsmen. (Well, apart from Prior. Jacques_aih - incidentally, here is our tribute to Ali on his birthday.)
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: It is only the first day of a test match, yes we have batted poorly etc. However, lets not forget it is the first day of a five day test match. I am far more interested on how our bowlers will fair. I see that we omitted Panesar and have gone with only one spinner and this is rather baffling when one looks at the damage Pakistan is doing to England with their spinners. (David)
STAT OF THE DAY: Ajmal became only the sixth bowler in history to take five lbw's in an innings. The other five were: Terry Alderman, Curtley Ambrose, Mohammad Zahid, Richard Johnson and Monty Panesar.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Ajmal's celebrations got wilder and more fervent as his haul developed with the spinner emulating the frenzied reactions of Imran Tahir and Panesar. In the spinner-celebraton stakes, Ajmal's stock is rising rapidly.