Middlesex's County Championship clash with Sussex at Old Merchant Taylors' today will provide the acid test of their recent upturn in form.
So claimed Joe Denly ahead of the county’s first ever championship fixture in the grounds of the boys’ secondary school in Moor Park.
Back-to-back wins over Lancashire and Northants have Angus Fraser’s side sitting on top of Division One, but they are only too aware Sussex humiliated them by an innings in the season curtain-raiser last month.
So according to former Kent batsman Denly, further improvement is needed to settle that score and show themselves to be worthy contenders.
He said: “We owe Sussex one for what happened down at Hove at the beginning of the season. Again they are one of the top teams in the division and they are the sort of side we need to back the wins over Lancashire and Northants up against, so I’m looking forward to that one.
“Old Merchant Taylors is a lovely place to play cricket and hopefully it will be a decent batting wicket.”
The victories over the red and Tudor rose counties came in the wake of Middlesex’s other crushing defeat of the campaign – another innings debacle against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
That defeat raised more questions over the north-west London outfit’s credentials to be a top four side and put their much maligned middle-order in particular under scrutiny.
The response has been impressive with successive first innings scores in excess of 400 – in the case of the game at Wantage Road in excess of 500 - setting up the victories.
In both cases they were made chasing a score of almost 300 and therefore contained an element of the scoreboard pressure which has seen them crumble in other games.
Under pressure individuals have responded to the call to ‘put their hands up out in the middle.
Dawid Malan has left early season cameos behind to make two scores of 92 back-to-back.
Neil Dexter’s career-best 163 not out in this week’s win over Northants followed another best ever with the ball against Lancashire.
John Simpson, Ollie Rayner and Denly himself have all weighed in with 50s in one or other of the wins while Eoin Morgan, absent on England duty for the Northants success made a first County Championship century for five years against Lancashire at Lord’s.
So whisper it quietly, but all of a sudden the batsmen of the tenants of Lord’s are not looking as reliant on talismanic captain Chris Rogers or England hopeful Sam Robson.
Let us not forget either the career-bests with bat and ball for Toby Roland-Jones against Northants which suggested a return to the form of two years ago following an injury-plagued 2013.
Reflecting on recent successes, Denly feels the Warwickshire loss which preceded them marked something of a watershed.
He added: “I think the Warwickshire defeat was a bit of a rocket up our backsides if you like.
“We had a chat after the game and said the way we had performed was not acceptable really as we set ourselves high standards and see ourselves as one of the top teams around who are always looking to get better and be right up there at the end of the season.
“It was about showing a bit of character and these last couple of games we have stepped up to the mark, but it is about being consistent with these performances.”