Of outright fast bowlers - those who electrify crowds and paralyse batsmen, especially tailenders - only the late Malcolm Marshall has bowled better than Mitchell Johnson throughout a full-length Test series.
Ahead of England's second innings, Johnson had 34 wickets at barely 14 runs each. Going through to the end of a Test series at full throttle is a recent phenomenon, the fruit of conditioning experts and playing little - if at all - outside international matches.
Three of the finest fast bowlers were injured before the end of their best series: Harold Larwood, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. Johnson, however, has hounded England until the last.
In every spell he has generated the pace that scrambles brains, sometimes with direct hits on the head, chest or arm, and has moved the ball a touch both ways at 150?kph. It is the ferocity that takes wickets for the bowler at the other end as well, such as when England's captain Alastair Cook was reduced to playing no shot at a straight ball.
In this series Johnson has ticked every box, as did Marshall, widely agreed to be the finest of all fast bowlers before his death, aged 41, in 1999. In more than one full-length series in the mid-1980s - like the one in England when he took 35 wickets at 12 - Marshall intimidated from first to last.
Of other outright fast bowlers, three Pakistanis were not always in the mood to bowl flat out in every spell: Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar. Bounce has not been the forte of Dale Steyn, Waqar Younis and Lasit Malinga, who have had all the attributes except that, being shorter and skiddier, they have had to pitch short to threaten throats.
Others have had all the attributes except the ability to make the ball move both ways: Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald, Brett Lee and Frank Tyson. If anybody has matched Marshall in having all the qualities, apart from Johnson in this series, it may have been Marshall's mentor, Andy Roberts, in his early years.
On the second morning, Johnson added England's debutant Gary Ballance to the list of half-a-dozen England batsmen he has hit, with what appears to have been considerable repercussions. Elsewhere, in this age of a maximum of two bouncers per over, well-padded if not mollycoddled batsmen have seldom been so painfully treated.
But it was Johnson's three-over spell on the first evening that undermined England, by serving notice that he would not relax with the end in sight.
This passage was that rare occasion when every ball is hold-your-breath dramatic; and having had a night to reflect upon it, Cook padded up to his second ball. England's first innings totals have been 136, 172, 251 and 255, but even those looked giddy heights when they stumbled to 23 for five.
James Anderson, a brave nightwatchman, was one of those wickets. So was Ian Bell, who was dropped at first slip first ball off Ryan Harris before being caught both on the crease and by the keeper.
But what was most disappointing was the passivity, the lack of intent, from England's top-order batsmen and, especially Bell, as he took 20 balls to get off the mark and played one scoring shot in 32 balls.
It was not the time for big shots; it was the time for quick singles, while allowing for David Warner swooping at cover, and for rotating the strike and disturbing the bowlers' line, England having as many as eight left-handers.
In his three tours, Kevin Pietersen has succeeded on Australia's least bouncy pitches, like Adelaide and Melbourne: here he was out half-driving at a ball that bounced too steeply.
The first shots of authority came from Ben Stokes, who has retained amid the disintegrations the essential ability to play each ball as it comes, not to succumb to accumulated anxieties.
Poor lad: after taking six-for the day before and, with England one wicket down overnight, he had 20 minutes to put his feet up before padding up. Stokes has been so mature, not only in handling Johnson and Harris, but Nathan Lyon, too. Ballance was caught behind, pushing forward at an off-break, after an encouraging start so far as it went, but Stokes lifted the score from 23 to 112 before he miscalculated and shouldered arms.
Never did Michael Clarke seem to have any interest in making England follow on. He did not want to tire his well-worn bowlers any more than necessary; and he had attendances later in the match for a secondary consideration, and fund-raising for the Jane McGrath foundation.
When Australia batted again, after England's apology of a first innings, Boyd Rankin could not adjust his line to the left-handed Chris Rogers, as in the first innings, and his length was again too short. But Rankin looked more confident, having helped Stuart Broad to slap 30 for the last wicket and overtake the follow-on figure of 127, largely at Lyon's expense.
Australia's top order collapsed again, without the excuse of having to tackle Johnson. Enjoying the bounce - something to work with at last - James Anderson took a couple of wickets in his opening spell. But there was never any likelihood of England getting back into the match so long as Rogers held one end.
Briskly he square-drove, clipped and cut, and overtook Bell as the leading run-scorer in the two Ashes series combined. Before the close of day two England bowled 30 overs - not so many that they had to resort to Steve Borthwick for more than a couple.
England's third debutant had edged a drive to third slip, when a significant innings was required to justify his promotion ahead of Monty Panesar. This match had been shaped when Steve Smith and Brad Haddin counter-attacked on the first day against England's three rookie bowlers, after the post-lunch spells of Anderson and Broad.
Cook had nobody left to impose control, although Stokes emerged with his half-dozen. On a lively pitch, in sunny yet cool weather, three seamers and Panesar would have been sufficient bowling, especially if Root had not been dropped. England could then have bolstered their lower-order batting against the assaults of Johnson, with Bairstow at eight.
If he takes four wickets in England's second innings to reach 38, Johnson will set a record for the most wickets in a Test series by any left-arm bowler ever. Even if he does not take another wicket, only Marshall, Lillee and Imran of outright fast bowlers have taken more.