Battle continues for shell-shocked Pietersen
It was a bravura innings from the former England batsman - a century smashed off just 68 deliveries, the ball clattered to all well-rounded corners of The Oval, the crowd rapturous in their applause.
Unfortunately for Kevin Pietersen, the former England batsman in question was Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki.
This probably wasn't quite how KP envisaged the summer panning out: dismissed for a duck in his last Test innings after an awful series, dropped from the England one-day squad, and then back in the hutch for a mere meandering 38 as his first match for Surrey ended in heavy defeat.
Pietersen loves this particular patch of south London. It was here that he hit that magnificent 158 to seal the Ashes win five years ago; here that he put India to the sword for another century two years later; and here just two summers ago that he marked his first Test as England captain with a swashbuckling 100 against a stunned and silenced South Africa.
Initially there were a few familiar glimmers of the glamourpuss of old. The fancy-dan sunglasses were lowered into place, the Michael Jordan-style red sweatband pulled high up his arm, a security guard trotting alongside him as he came down the pavilion steps.
In the field he shouted ostentatious advice to Surrey skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown, dived about enthusiastically and beamed with delight when asked to break up the party when Worcester were 269-3 in the 30th over.
That was about the last beaming we saw. In that one and only over, he had Gareth Andrew dropped in the deep second ball, and was then clubbed for successive sixes as 17 runs were taken off him.
Andrew went on to hit 104 in his side's huge total of 376. Even then, hopes remained high. KP loves a stage, delights in a challenge. The pitch was perfect for batting. Surely the scene was set for the great showman to silence the doubters?
Windmilling his arms as he jogged to the middle, his new and unfamiliar side 52-1 in the fifth over, he was off the mark first ball. Three deliveries later he drilled a dreamy drive through the leg-side field, and the well-scattered patrons shifted forward a touch in their seats.
For a while he seemed happy to play second fiddle to Hamilton-Brown. On eight he survived a big lbw appeal against Jack Shantry. For a couple of overs he then accelerated, slap-sweeping with muscular relish.
On 25, he was dropped down the leg-side off glove and back pad. That's the chance, you thought. Now he'll make them pay.
Shaaiq Choudhry had other ideas. If the catch off his own bowling was a sharp one, it was straight at him. Pietersen tipped his head back, grimaced at the heavens and turned on his heel, seen off by an unheralded journeyman who has played only three first-class matches in his life.
Whether Pietersen's foray back into county cricket pays off for England in the longer term is still a matter of conjecture.
It is all about England, too, no matter how many more spectators he might attract to Surrey matches (7,917 on Wednesday, up from 4,339 in the last comparable fixture). England are paying his wages, and it was the ECB who approached Surrey rather than vice-versa. "We were very pleased to oblige," admitted the county's chief executive Paul Sheldon. "We feel we're here very much to help England."
Two of the four matches he plays are 40-over affairs. On that basis you'd think he would be better off testing himself against the touring Pakistanis, both in terms of the quality of opposition and the sort of big match atmosphere he thrives on. And as England don't play 40-over cricket, there is a limit to what can be gained from any success in the format.
As far as the two four-day matches go, you could look at it either way. If he does score runs, can we really say that he's ready to face Australia in Brisbane? One of his Surrey team-mates has scored tens of thousands of county runs over the past 20 seasons, and only the most nostalgic would suggest that Mark Ramprakash should be on the plane to Austrlia.
"I could play county cricket and I'm 40 next week," reckons Darren Gough, who was Pietersen's best man at his wedding. "It's not in the same league."
If he doesn't score runs, does that mean England will leave him out of their Test side? Nope. Whatever happens during this experimental loan, England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower will have him on their team sheet come the first Test in late November.
If it's about practice and polishing, it'll be an entirely new method for Pietersen. In the five years since he made his Test debut, he has had more tattoos than he has four-day county matches.
Hampshire v Somerset,Taunton, May 2008. That's it.
If it's about building confidence, the championship fixture against Glamorgan at the Oval batters' track might fit the bill, but Gloucestershire away could be a very different story - 24 wickets went down on the first day of the last county match at Bristol.
It might also be about more than just runs.
There are two schools of thought on KP. While some view him as a spoilt show-pony, paying the price for abandoning the traditional route through a cricketing career, others see a simple cove who needs love and attention as much as time in the middle if he is to produce his best.
"I've never felt so loved," he gushed happily after hitting 152 against South Africa at Lord's in 2008. Now, still apparently mourning the loss of the England captaincy 18 months ago, he looks like a lost soul. Will he get the adoration he requires on a chilly September Tuesday at the County Ground?
Pietersen is not the only England batsman on a bad run of form. Paul Collingwood averaged 19 in the recent series against Pakistan, four less than his demoted compadre. Eoin Morgan managed only one score over 50.
Yet neither Collingwood or Morgan have been sent back to their counties, which makes you wonder whether this move was as much a boot up the backside from the England hierarchy as a helping hand.
Former South Africa all-rounder Clive Rice, the man who persuaded Pietersen to move to England and join Nottinghamshire in 2001, is one who subscribes to that view.
"I'm sure that he has annoyed many of the authorities running English cricket," Rice told the BBC. "You can't have one player running away and thinking he can run the game the way he would like to run it."
Pietersen's own take on the situation appears a fluid one. What on Twitter on Tuesday seemed clear-cut ("Yep. Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too... Its a f*** up!!") was so quickly transformed in the official ECB version ("I fully understand the reasons. I have no issue with the selectors omitting me. My sole focus is now working on my game.") that you wondered what the same spin doctors might do for other notable events in history. ("'The Charge of the Light Brigade provided the ideal chance for me to work on my riding skills,' declared Lord Cardigan.")
"It's understandable that the selectors would like me to play some four-day cricket," Pietersen was quoted as saying by Wednesday afternoon."It will be a wonderful opportunity to get back into nick and get ready for a very exciting winter."
Whatever your preferred version, this is not the first bad run of form Pietersen has endured for his country. In the four months from December 2007 to March 2008 he went 10 Test innings without a 50.
Despite that, it is the most significant slump he has experienced. This is a man who exploded onto the international scene; he made more runs in his first 25 Tests than anyone else except Don Bradman.
Yet in his 31st year, questions remain. He averages less than 50 in Test cricket, and still awaits a career-defining series. If a list was compiled now of the best Test batsmen of the last decade, he would probably be outside the top five.
That, for a man of his talents and reputation, is not enough. Which is why, for the remainder of his time with Surrey, everything he does will come under the closest of scrutiny.
"He has to go and do the work," says Rice. "He has to play for Surrey and do an incredible amount of hard work to get himself back into form and get his head right.
"I just think Kevin's mind, watching him play in the recent games, has been in a bad state because he hasn't actually played. You can't just turn up and play."