Having won what proved to be a very beneficial toss, the tourists opted to bat and made full use of a rather placid and unresponsive pitch to finish the opening day on 307-4.
The undoubted star of proceedings was Shane Watson who weighed in with a superb innings of 176 (more on him later), while Steven Smith will also have designs on a century having reached 66 not out by the close.
For England and their bowling attack it proved a tough day and especially so for surprise debutants Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan who were given a rough introduction to Test cricket by Watson in particular who launched what appeared a premeditated attack on England's new boys.
But the wicket of Watson - claimed by Stuart Broad who had found himself on the end of a verbal bashing from Australia coach Darren Lehmann before the start of play - gave England some late cheer and early wickets on Thursday could yet spark a rapid shift in the balance of power.
Here we take a look back at the pick of the action from day one in South London...
Elementary for Watson
Shane Watson's inability to turn good-looking knocks of 30, 40, 50-plus into centuries has long been the cause of teeth-gnashing for Australia and their supporters, but on Wednesday the right-hander came good... and in some style. Watson had waited 25 matches, 48 innings and almost three years for his last Test hundred, but finally reached three figures again at the Oval with a memorable knock of 176. Fluency and aggression were to the fore as he smashed 25 fours and one six during his 247-ball innings - an effort that makes him Australia's top run-scorer in the series, converting his series average from a frustrating 36 to a highly respectable 56.
Another landmark for Anderson
While it might not have been one of his most productive days with the ball in an England shirt, James Anderson still managed two more Test scalps. Having removed David Warner early on following a feather behind to Matt Prior (the 58th time those two have combined in Test cricket), he then accounted for Michael Clarke with one that zipped through the Australian skipper's defences to peg back his off stump. The wicket of Clarke is always a big one, but on this occasion it held special significance as it saw Anderson move past Bob Willis to become England's second most successful wicket-taker in Test cricket with 326 victims, leaving only Sir Ian Botham (383) ahead of him. "I'd have obviously preferred a nicer day in the field, but it's a really nice moment for me," Anderson told Sky Sports.
Kerrigan's stage fright
It came as something of a surprise when Simon Kerrigan was called up to England's squad for the fifth Test, so when he was handed a debut on Wednesday it left many observers stunned. Unfortunately for the Lancashire left-armer he also appeared shell-shocked to be involved as he produced a nerve-riddled display on day one. The fact Shane Watson took ten from his first over and then 18 from his second would not have helped his confidence, but the 24-year-old offered up an array of full-tosses and long-hops that got the treatment. There is still plenty of time for Kerrigan to demonstrate the ability that earned him a call-up, but he will not remember his first day in Test cricket with much fondness as he finished with figures of eight overs for 53 runs.
Ian Bell joined Ian Ward in the Ashes Zone prior to the Oval Test as he took the latest in our series of batting masterclasses. The 31-year-old has proved to be England's outstanding performer with the bat during this series with three centuries and provided a fascinating insight into how he has gone about making his runs. Bell identified the need to play late as key to his success this summer and then offered an in-depth demonstration of how to put that skill into practice. "There have been some different skills that we've had to use at different times, but playing late has probably been the most important thing," he told Sky Sports.
Day one recap
You can relive all the best action from day one by reading our interactive commentary from The Oval. Alternatively you can view a gallery of the day's best images here, while to get Michael Holding's views on day one just watch the video opposite.