Great Britain's men made a major statement of intent by qualifying fastest - ahead of arch-rivals Australia - in the team pursuit on the opening day of the Track Cycling World Championships at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne.
In the eagerly-anticipated four-man, four-kilometre event, Ed Clancy, Pete Kennaugh, Andy Tennant and Geraint Thomas clocked three minutes 54.485 seconds, the third fastest time in history.
Australia's Glenn O'Shea, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn were on course to better Britain's performance - the fastest qualifying time ever - but unravelled in the final 500metres to post 3mins 54.654secs, the fifth fastest of all time.
The teams will meet again in the final on Wednesday evening, when the world record of 3:53.314, set by Britain in winning gold at the Beijing Olympics, could be under threat.
Britain were 1.715secs behind Australia at February's Track World Cup in London, a competition which doubled as the Olympic test event, but have now proved their progress and there are four months to go to the Games track programme.
The British quartet's time - in a performance which started steadily before building rapidly in the closing laps - was behind only the Beijing best and another GB effort at the Manchester Track World Cup in 2009.
The first day's finals were set to include the women's team sprint and the corresponding men's event, in which Britain have already sprung a surprise.
Philip Hindes, the 19-year-old born in Germany to a British father, was selected to start, leading out Olympic champions Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy.
Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton were aiming to improve on their world record-breaking performance in February against defending world champions Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch of Australia in the two-woman, two-lap event.
Ben Swift was also set to be in action in the non-Olympic 15km scratch race.