Although the competitive order ahead of the first race of the season is impossible to call, McLaren has dropped a firm hint that it believes its new MP4-28 has plenty of room for improvement.
Both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez said during testing that they were struggling to get a full understanding of the car, and team principal Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday that the aim for now was to establish a good baseline for the rest of the campaign.
"It's important to remember that our MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design that we intend to develop aggressively throughout the year," he said.
"Undoubtedly, it has great potential - and we fly to Melbourne determined to show well and to score points that should establish us in good stead for both the drivers' and the constructors' world championships.
"We're still working tirelessly to bring more pace to the MP4-28's performance envelope, and I believe we'll arrive in Australia in decent shape."
Whitmarsh conceded that the last few weeks had been 'challenging' due to a combination of rain-hit testing days and difficulties dealing with excessive tyre degradation.
Button has admitted that things are hard to predict right now, and that troubles in testing do not necessarily mean that a team will not be competitive over the season.
"One of the most fascinating things about Formula 1 is the way it resets itself each and every winter," he said.
"I've seen every side of that: you can have a terrible winter of testing, then turn up at the first race and be competitive; equally, you can look impressive in winter testing and be nowhere in Melbourne.
"If you're lucky, it all comes together in the tests and you hit the ground running at the first race. That's always the goal.
"This year, I don't think any team really knows or understands the competitive order. But that's part of the game."