Michael Clarke will head into this winter's Ashes series with a strange suspicion surrounding his leadership of an Australian team that has become more and more dysfunctional under him.
Clarke took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting two years ago and immediately established a reputation as one of the game's most astute leaders.
His early success over West Indies in Barbados, when Australia won after Clarke declared behind, confirmed his fearless determination to win games for his country.
He has stacked up the runs too, to lead a collapse-prone batting order from the front.
The 32-year-old has scored almost 3,000 runs at an average of 63.35 in his 28 Tests since taking over the captaincy, hitting 10 centuries including three double tons.
Now retired left-hander Mike Hussey's 1,585 runs during the same period is the next best an Australian has mustered.
But Clarke's heavy run-scoring, and a few funky fielding placings along the way, have increasingly failed to mask the many and varied disasters that have beset his side.
The problems have most significantly come to a head during this year's tours of India and England when Australia have failed to win a single Test in nine.
The 4-0 whitewash in India was made even more unpalatable by the 'Homework-gate' saga after which Shane Watson stepped down as Clarke's vice-captain.
The summer's trip to England was hardly much better with Mickey Arthur's shock sacking as coach, just 16 days before the 3-0 Ashes defeat, ensuring David Warner's bar-room antics were about as close as Australia got to delivering a significant blow to Andy Flower's successfully 'dour' masterplan.
In the absence of the leadership group Clarke started the year with - Arthur and Watson having both been moved from their roles and Ponting and Hussey retired - the right-hander has been manoeuvred into a position where blame is starting to fall more noticeably on his shoulders.
Clarke has only ever enjoyed an arm's length relationship with many Australia fans - he was booed in Melbourne and Brisbane on England's last visit Down Under - and the calamities of 2013 have started to make his natives restless.
In his short tenure as coach so far Darren Lehmann has attempted to lighten the load on his skipper in typical style - crowing about cracks in the English batting line-up and calling on his home fans to make Stuart Broad's life a living hell this winter.
Lehmann's diversionary tactics, which hide a more nuanced cricket brain, have helped to lift some of the focus of pressure that has started to weary Clarke's boyish looks and, most alarmingly, tell on his ailing body.
The return of his long-troubling back problems, which threatens his place in the first Test at Brisbane, has exposed the frailty of Clarke's position long term.
England pounced on the problem during the summer's Ashes too, as they twice located his off-stump in Nottingham and Chester-le-Street after peppering him with short-pitch bowling.
If those issues were not enough to curdle Clarke's mind before this winter's series, then comments from his predecessor Ponting following the recent release of his autobiography 'At The Close Of Play' certainly did not help.
In it Ponting has claimed he held concerns over Clarke's fit for the Australian captaincy before handing over the reins in 2011.
"It was true that I'd been disappointed with some of the things he had done - or more accurately hadn't done - as vice-captain," Ponting wrote.
"I knew he was an excellent thinker on the game, but for a long time I was concerned."
Perhaps more alarming for Clarke though was Ponting's assertion that he was an aloof presence while he acted as his vice-captain.
At a time when Clarke must rally the players under him, revelations from beyond the dressing room doors that he was an unwilling ally in times of trouble hardly aid his cause.
"Away from cricket, he moved in a different world to the rest of us," Ponting added.
"It never worried me if a bloke didn't want a drink in the dressing room, but I did wonder about blokes who didn't see the value in sticking around for a chat and a laugh and a post-mortem on the day's play.
"When 'Pup' was down on form or if he had a problem away from cricket, he'd go into his shell."
Clarke has, however, proved himself a defiant character amid Australia's recent ills under his captaincy.
He maintained a calm and reassuring presence in front of the cameras, and on the field, during this summer's Ashes and his century at Old Trafford came after he publicly put the onus on himself to deliver following his side's pummelling at Lord's.
They are characteristics that portray a leader that have not been so willingly acknowledged during Australia's problems.
They are also characteristics that will be tested to the full again this winter.
After all that has happened since Australia last played at home, Clarke's leadership is certain to come under the microscope from his home media and fans.
Certainly England will again also target him.
Graeme Swann admitted before the summer they would attempt to "cut off the serpent's head" in relation to Clarke, which proved an effective approach.
Just how Clarke stands up to all of that, just three months on, will have a fair say in the final result this winter.