James Toseland, who beat Troy Bayliss to victory during a stunning race two duel at the 2007 Phillip Island World Superbike round, was a competitive tenth at the end of his first hour of official MotoGP action down under - only to slide back to 17th in the wet afternoon session.
Toseland, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Sunday, was only 0.2secs off a top three position this morning as he quickly improved on a set-up from a successful pre-season test on his Tech 3 Yamaha in February.
"It was really good this morning and I was really happy," said the Englishman. "We'd found a good direction and the bike was working pretty well. I was only a tenth off third place and I used the same rear tyre for the whole session. We made a change halfway through with the rear shock to get a bit more grip on the exit of corners and it was working well and I could run consistent times. If I'd have had that set-up when the tyre was a bit better then I would have been in the top three and that would have been really encouraging."
But this afternoon's second session was run in wet and blustery conditions, conditions which transformed the balance of his machine.
"I just couldn't get out of the corners and we couldn't cure it," he said. "The rear was spinning up as soon as I touched the throttle, so we haven't got the balance of the rear right. At least it is looking dry on the forecasts for tomorrow so we can build on what we found this morning.
"But for the wet we need to find a new setting. I know the problem we are having but unfortunately we are not curing it. We are all working hard but we'll have a sit down and have a re-think because it is nothing like the feeling I have in the dry. There's not as much grip in the wet but the bike should be feeling pretty similar in terms of balance and it doesn't," he revealed.
Team-mate Colin Edwards at least had a more consistent day, finishing twelfth and tenth.
"It was a bit of a strange day because really in both sessions we ran out of time just when we were heading in a direction to make some steps forward," said the Texan, who will make his 100th grand prix start on Sunday. "We didn't set the world on fire this morning but I was reasonably happy.
"In the dry I did a decent lap at the end on a rear tyre that definitely isn't going to be my race tyre, so that's positive knowing we could have made it a lot better. In the rain my comfort level wasn't really high so we can make some improvements. Something is just lacking in the package although we did some decent laps, and if it rains again we got a few ideas to improve the feeling.
"Michelin had one tyre that is probably one of the hardest we have got, and although this track is notorious for wearing the left side of the tyre, I don't have much feel on the right. Even though there's only really two right-hand corners, it is just hurting my lap time a little bit. I just can't be as smooth as I am normally in the rain.
"At the end we made a change to the chassis that made the front a lot better, but I'd like to find a bit more of a comfortable feeling with the rear. I feel like I was always chasing the front of the bike to correct the rear sliding around, but I'm pretty confident for whatever the weather throws at us," Colin concluded.