Andrew Strauss admits England will head into the Ashes with far from ideal "concerns" over their batting line-up.
Now director of cricket, Strauss captained England to victory Down Under in the 2010/11 series, but Joe Root's men will travel to Australia having suffered a whitewash on their last trip under Alastair Cook.
An opening role, number three and five have been problematic in Root's line-up, with Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan having ended the English summer occupying them, but under pressure to establish themselves.
Having emerged from victorious against South Africa and West Indies without a settled team, Strauss admits England could still be guessing by the time they travel to Brisbane for the start of the series.
"The concerns I have are the concerns most people have, which is we haven't been able to establish a team where 11 players are fully established," Strauss told ESPNcricinfo.
"There are two or three places up for grabs, which is never ideal, and our consistency hasn't been what we want.
"I'd be lying if I said we were going to Australia with absolute clarity on what our best XI is. We're just not in that position at the moment."
Since Strauss' retirement, Cook has opened the batting for England's Test team with 12 different partners, although Stoneman's gritty end to the West Indies series suggests he will remain in situ Down Under.
The likes of Sam Robson, Adam Lyth and Keaton Jennings faded after fine starts, while dashing stroke-makers like Alex Hales and Ben Duckett could not translate white-ball excellence to the longest format.
"I would resist any narrative that says we have been chopping and changing," Strauss said.
"Most of these guys had a good length in the team and would hold their hand up and say it wasn't a bad decision to remove them for a bit.
"I think the reality is that the secret to a long England career is not how good you are, it is how consistent you are and those guys have not been consistent enough."