Ashes fever is set to grip the nation once again. Expectations are at their lowest for years, given the humiliation of the 5-0 whitewash Down Under the last time the little urn was fought for. Yet, this is not one of the dominant Australia sides that we have become so used to fearing. England do have an opportunity to regain the Ashes on home soil, but certain key aspects will have to go their way.

Stand up to the quicks

If England are to stand any chance of winning this series, their top-order batsmen have to perform a lot better than they did in Australia.

Frankly, they were steamrollered, particularly by the pace and bounce of Mitchell Johnson.

Though Johnson has never bowled that well in England, he also has one of most in-form bowlers in Mitchell Starc and the ever-improving Josh Hazlewood to back him up. Neither are short of pace and this combination will win this series for Australia unless they are dealt with well.

This is where England's top-four batsmen - Alastair Cook, Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell - must stand up and be counted. It will be hostile and unpleasant but if they stick it out and see off the new ball, it will get easier for them and those lower down in the order.

If they can do this, England have the talent in the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to bat aggressively and take the game away from the Aussies.

They will have a lot more chance of smashing their way past 400 against spinner Nathan Lyon and a weary seam attack though, than they will if they are coming in at 40-3.

Successful spin option

Finding a front-line spinner has been a real problem for England since Graeme Swann retired during the last Ashes debacle. Moeen Ali surprised everyone by taking 19 wickets in last summer's series against India but he has found international Cricket difficult since then.

He has looked like a batsman who can bowl a bit at times - not what England need - and there has been calls to start the series with leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who impressed in the recent one-day series victory. Whoever England go with, they need to at least provide control so that the pacemen are afforded a period of rest after the initial burst.

With the pitches likely to be pretty dry and flat, the spinners will play a crucial role in this series. Personally, I would gamble on Rashid as he has the wicket-taking threat, being able to spin the ball both ways, that may check Australia as they look to take the attack to the home side. 

Battle of the captains 

Cook has silenced any doubters there were over his batting. But there are still those who call his captaincy defensive and reactive.

Michael Clarke is of the opposite ilk. His quirky, attacking field placings and mentality have impressed many and there is no doubt he out-performed Cook in Australia. 

Brendon McCullum stole our hearts with the spirit he instilled in his touring New Zealand team and I just hope some of that may have rubbed off on Cook because, on the back of the excitement and momentum from the one-day series, he has the opportunity to win over the British public and get them cheering for England once more.

Catches win matches

It seems England can't stop dropping catches, in whatever form of cricket. It was even the stand-out negative in the recent phenomenal one-day success. 

Slip-catching in particular is a worry. It is hard enough nowadays to take those 20 wickets in a Test matches, without shelling simple chances. England simply can't afford to drop someone like Steve Smith, who is in outstanding form, early in his innings.

Unfortunately, you can't pick Chris Jordan for his fielding alone so England must quickly find a successful slip cordon.

As I have mentioned, it will be a far from easy series for England. But Australia are beatable. especially over here in the green and pleasant land. If  Cook inspires, England's top-order fronts up, our spinner bowls well and the fielders hold their catches, that little urn can come back to where it belongs.