Australia have regained the respect of their critics with their performances at Old Trafford and Durham, Marcus North told Cricket AM.
The tourists entered the current Ashes clash as underdogs, following their back-to-back defeats in the previous two series with England and a run of indifferent form in all formats of the game.
Despite narrowly losing the first Test by 15 runs, a resounding loss at Lord's appeared to support many pundits' views that there was a vast gap in quality between England and Australia - with several suggesting Alastair Cook's side could win the consecutive home and away series 10-0.
However, a far-improved display at Old Trafford in the third Test from Michael Clarke's men - which, but for rain, could have seen them reduce England's advantage to 2-1 in the series - and a promising first day in Durham have shown the hosts won't have it all their own way going forward.
And former Australia batsman North is delighted with the way his countrymen have bounced back and shown their potential.
"We were competitive in the first Test match but got hammered in the second Test match at Lord's," he said. "However, the Test match at Old Trafford was so important to get that respect back and I think we did that.
"We played some really good cricket but unfortunately the rain came on the last day. We could have got those wickets but we got the respect back."
Although Australia are now unable to reclaim the urn on this occasion, with England two up with only the Oval Test to come after Durham, North is optimistic about his country's chances Down Under when the return series gets underway this winter.
A morale boosting win in one of the final two Tests in England and a more settled batting line-up could, he suggests, lead to a much closer contest on Australian soil.
"The key for Australia is batting," he said.
"We've talked about how good the bowling stocks are and that's shown in the series, but if we can make some runs consistently we'll put pressure on top teams like South Africa and England.
"No doubt playing England in their back yard is tough and we haven't won over here for a number of series now, but if Australia can sneak a win in the last two Tests that will help going back to Australia.
"There we will be playing in conditions we're used to and it's another five matches where the players get exposed to each other; there will be nothing new to these guys, so I expect it to be a lot closer.
"If we can put enough pressure on England - who are expected to win, while we've not got much to lose - we can hopefully turn them over."
North played in 21 Tests for his country, making five centuries, but, at the age of 34, has labelled himself as an 'Ex AustralianTest cricketer' on his Twitter page.
Quizzed on whether he has truly ended his ambitions of pulling on the baggy green again - especially in light of opener Chris Rogers making his Ashes debut at 35 - North pointed to his inconsistent batting as a major obstacle to him reclaiming a place in the side - but refused to concede he had completely closed the door on a possible recall.
He said: "I like seeing the young guys getting their opportunity while Rogers is making a lot more runs than me!
"He's a fantastic player and I played a lot of cricket with him back in Australia. He's a prolific run scorer, as you've seen with Middlesex, and he's probably deserved more opportunities over the years, so it's great to see him finally get a chance.
"If I was making a lot more runs I'd love to be playing for my country. I've not closed the door just yet but there are some really good young players - Phil Hughes isn't getting a game, Steve Smith has come in and done well, and there is Usman Khawaja - there are a lot of good young batters out there."