SYDNEY - The wisdom behind Australia's decision to bowl first against Sri Lanka at the SCG was called into question, but at least playing four quicks in Sydney allowed future stars Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc to shine on their home-town wicket.
Bird, born in Sydney but playing for Tasmania, improved on an impressive debut in Melbourne to bag 4-41 in front of family and friends and spearhead an attack that dismissed Sri Lanka for 294.
And after Starc (3-71) last week voiced his disappointment at being controversially omitted from the Boxing Day team, the NSW quick let his actions do the talking on day one of the third Test.
This was the Test supposed to be over inside three days.
But injury-riddled Sri Lanka was courageous in the face of extreme adversity and has let the Australians know they're in a contest.
Ultimately, however, it was all out for a below-par total as it attempts to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash.
Bird's display has almost certainly booked himself a ticket to India next month, with his Ashes chances also boosted.
The 26-year-old, who has drawn comparisons to Glenn McGrath, couldn't get a look-in with NSW, but said there was nothing to prove in his triumphant homecoming.
''It's nice to get a few wickets out of the way early. It was tough work out there but I thought we stuck at it pretty well towards the end of the day,'' said Bird, who had a chance to chat with friends in the stands when fielding in the outfield.
''I grew up in Sydney and lived here for 24 years. It's good to have friends and family here and do well in front of them.''
After picking the first four-pronged fast-bowling arsenal Australia has seen at the SCG in more than half a century, Michael Clarke had little choice but to back his pacemen and send Sri Lanka in.
But as Sri Lanka bravely toiled to 2-80 at lunch and 4-169 at tea, it became clear the green tinge on the pitch looked too good to be true and, as curator Tom Parker predicted, the SCG was a bat-first pitch.
A combination of good work from Bird, Starc and Peter Siddle (2-46) and some poor batting by Sri Lanka ensured Australia still held the upper hand in its bid to send Michael Hussey out in winning style.
Bird conceded Australia didn't show the killer punch it was hoping for until late in the day, with the last five wickets falling for 79 runs.
Australia's attack also struggled to go for the throat against South Africa in Adelaide and Perth earlier this summer.
''We probably weren't good enough to stand that seam up and utilise the conditions as well as we should have,'' said Bird, who was adamant the Australians weren't caught off guard by Sri Lanka's fighting spirit.