The Lord's bell rung by Steve Waugh to get this Test under way will henceforth be known as the Ian Bell, after England's No?5 displayed ancient resolve as well as his usual panache to halt an Australian ambush.
Waugh, one of the more belligerent Australia captains, was like a great seafarer waking his crew from a deep and dangerous slumber. Up they rose to strike down Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen for 28 runs before Bell ambled to the crease in his new role as pacifier.
If they all worry about how posterity judge will them, Bell probably thought he would go down as an introspective craftsman who wanted to be left alone to place his shots on sunny days, without Aussies yapping in his ear or an England innings falling part around him.
From his own private world of graceful construction, he has emerged in this series as England's rescue act, a block to Australian aggression and a scorer of attractive centuries under pressure.
He must like this new costume, because he has worn it twice in a week, both times for knocks of 109 in an England batting line-up that is largely dropping short of its statistical superiority over Australia.
We are talking labels here. The view was that Bell made centuries when others had already been there first. He decorated a good England innings rather than built one in his image. He was vulnerable to sledging.
Shane Warne said so as recently as the eve of this Ashes series. Something about his countenance and his meticulous style of play contradicts the macho code. He was delicate, diminutive and slightly self-absorbed.
This sketch of England's No?5 will now be consigned to the recycling, though the hardest critics might still say he ought to go on from 109 and build a score of crushing numbers. In the lemon light of this first day, he became only the fourth England batsman to complete three consecutive Ashes centuries, following Chris Broad, Wally Hammond and Jack Hobbs.
His first, 115, was at Sydney in the final Test of the last series. His hunger was not sated there. At Trent Bridge he strode in with England 121 for three and left some unconvincing recent form behind to save his country's bacon with an 18th Test century that brought him level with David Gower and Michael Vaughan.
This 19th ton lifts him to the same high tier as Len Hutton and places him one behind Ken Barrington and Graham Gooch. No longer can he be accused of being a luxury in England's middle order.
Alastair Cook's men were in a mess when Bell walked out to join Jonathan Trott after an Australian assault. The restoration of Ryan Harris to Michael Clarke's attack yielded swift dividends.
Pep talks by Waugh, Warne and Adam Gilchrist seemed to boost Australian confidence. In the shadow of greatness, Clarke's side displayed more than mere defiance. They began with some of the boldness of Australia's golden age. This was an imperial Lord's first day, with the Queen greeting the two teams on the field and members scurrying for seats.
England's hard fought win in Nottingham translated into a frantic urge to be at the home of cricket in classic summer weather. Tradition itself seemed to take an especially long time in front of the mirror and then show itself in all its finery. Bell was the England batsmen whose work best honoured the Lord's ritual of players writing their names on dressing room boards.
This is a man, remember, who has said of his earliest experiences of facing the Australia of Warne and Glenn McGrath: "Both were probably past their best but it was a different level from anything I'd faced before. I'm not sure I was ready for that level of cricket."
He is now, with the proviso that this is a much less menacing Australia attack. Even so, Bell is playing his own graceful game while extricating England from trouble. This is the combination that his detractors said was eluding him. But a maiden Ashes century in Sydney gave him the taste for more.
Steering the ball backward of point, he knew he had earned the most precious feeling for a batsman in all of cricket: a Test century, in the shadow of the Lord's pavilion, the Mount Rushmore of bat and ball. What followed only emphasised his importance as the man to stop a leak. When he fell to a first-slip catch off Steve Smith, the part-time spinner, with England 271 for five, England crumpled, losing Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior for 12 more runs.
England's batsmen, with their higher averages than Australia, have not excelled yet as a single fighting force. Their saviour is the so-called mouse who roared. You could only applaud this spirited reinvention.