Almost the Ashes
Eight days into the Commonwealth Games, a favourite old subplot has popped up: England v Australia.
If Sunday was all about Sushil Kumar and Indian dominance of wrestling, shooting and weightlifting, the days that followed had the oldest rivalry of the Games set squarely as its centrepiece.
On Monday morning, the semi-final of the women's hockey; in the afternoon, the key group-stage clash between the respective rugby sevens outfits.
Sandwiched in between, a spicy little surprise: the semi-finals of the women's pairs lawn bowls. The aperitif? Netball semi-final, first thing Tuesday.
Mid-morning at the Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium, and England's women are clear favourites to draw first blood.
Even when the Hockeyroos sit deep and defend in numbers, there is still a sense of English optimism in the air - but two penalty corners are wasted, and when Madonna Blyth deflects in Australia's first short corner early in the second half, the Aussie radio commentator behind me goes into overdrive.
"Let's count 'em down!" he yells as the seconds tick away. "Three! Two! One! It's all over!"
If there's any remaining doubt about who has gone ahead in the Almost Ashes, the sight of several England players on their knees in tears does the job.
"We were all over them," bemoans England captain Kate Walsh. "We definitely had the lion's share of possession, we had the most penetration, they sat off. It's going to hurt because we came here to get that gold."
Still - this is only the start. A dash out of the stadium into the blazing midday heat, a rapid taxi north and we are at Delhi University, host venue for the sevens.
Despite temperatures which are far more summer in Sydney than Sydenham, Ben Ryan's men provide an immediate lift.
Two sensational bursts of scorching pace see 20-year-old Dan Caprice cross for a 21-14 lead, and although the Aussies touch down for a try from the last move of the match, the conversion goes wide.
There are no tears this time - perish the thought - but there is a kick in the tail: while the winner of this ding-dong was supposed to have an easier route to the final, Kenya's shock win over Samoa means England suddenly have the two top-seeded teams to beat.
Australia, meanwhile, only have Kenya and South Africa between them and the gold-medal match.
It will turn out to be a crucial twist. Even as we gather at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex for the netball showdown the following day, Australia are cruising past Scotland in their quarter-final, England on the brink of elimination by New Zealand.
At this point the battling efforts of England's lawn bowlers truly come into their own. Down 7-4 and seemingly out against a rampant Aussie pairing, they drag it back to 7-5 with two ends to go and then level it up in the eighth end to force a final end shoot-out - a shoot-out sealed with a stirring comeback.
Even better, England duo Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro then fight back from a game down to beat Aussie favourites Kasey Brown and Donna Urquhart in a gripping women's squash semi-final.
Duncalf, well versed in the importance of the Almost Ashes, describes how the win has left her feeling "a bit goose-pimpley".
Sadly for sporting Englishmen the planet over, the victories end there. The netballers are always up against it - their win over Australia earlier this year was their first Test win in 29 years - yet an early flurry of goals sees them lead at the end of the first quarter.
It is to be short-lived. Even with the legendary Daley Thompson watching on, the awesome Aussie machine marches on. The St George's flags around the arena hang limp; the inflatable kangaroos are rampant.
There is of course a wider context to the last few days.
Australia are light years ahead of England at the top of the overall medal table, a fact that some in green and gold will see as the definitive end of any argument.
Then again, where's the surprise there? Australia have finished top of the table at every Games since 1986. What's more interesting is the direction they're heading in.
Four years ago in Melbourne they finished with 221 medals in total, 84 of them gold. So far here in Delhi - admittedly with three days still to go - they've bagged a mere 143, with 64 of those gold.
If that downward trend doesn't cause consternation at the Australian Institute of Sport, nothing will.
Hold on, the Aussie fans will say. What about the swimming - the "Splashes", as BBC Radio 5 live's Karen Pickering refers to them?
On the face of it, there was nothing but joy for the traditional giants down at the pool; Australia won exactly half of the gold medals on offer, 22 out of 44. By comparison, England won only three.
But let's put that performance in context. At the last Commonwealths Australia won 27 of the 44. Far be it for me to say that the world's greatest swimming nation is in crisis, but those numbers don't lie.
What of cycling? Hats off to Australia. To win 12 out of 14 gold medals on offer in the velodrome is quite something.
Who knows - had England, Scotland, Wales or the Isle of Man bothered sending some first-choice riders over, they may still have hung on to a few. Credit where credit is due.
There are other Almost Ashes to feed into the mix - the Bashes (rugby/boxing) the Lashes (synchronised swimming) and of course the Dashes (athletics track).
But since the feud between the two track squads is still simmering after England's protest denied Australia's Sally Pearson 100m gold and left her in floods of tears, we'd probably leave that one well alone.
There is another nascent sporting giant to throw into the mix too. Just as the current Border-Gavaskar Trophy battle between Australia and India has a decent claim to being a more important series than the Ashes, a more accurate reflection of the cricketing hierarchy, so India's magnificent march to second on the Commonwealth medal table here in Delhi may well be changing the rules of engagement.
Australia v India. Now there's a contest.