Three quick wickets and England would regain the Ashes with an innings victory, and that is precisely what happened as the home team ran away winners by an innings and 78 runs to win back that famous urn from their biggest rivals Australia with a 3-1 series win.
This fourth Test match at Trent Bridge was basically over after the first 18.3 overs of the first innings, when Australia were shot down for 60 runs, thanks to an incredible spell of bowling from Stuart Broad, who took on the mantle in stunning style in the absence of the spearhead James Anderson.
From there, it was just a matter of when and by how many, with England playing professionally to complete a second Test match victory in under three days.
"It feels lovely, unbelievable moment," England skipper Alastair Cook told Sky Sports. "I couldn't be happier. To what we have been through and now, and to play the way we played in three out of the four Tests.
"I am just so proud of this young team to have taken the opportunity, and to win this match without Jimmy, I can't be prouder.
"There is a lot of backroom positives, and we also should thank [former coach] Peter Moores. A lot of guys improved with his coaching, so this is also for you Peter.
England started the day off the way they finished, with Ben Stokes on fire, picking up Mitchell Starc, to leave Australia on 242/8 from their overnight score of 241/7. Two runs later Josh Hazlewood was also walking back to the pavilion, with Nathan Lyon also not able to stick around long enough, as Mark Wood took the final couple of wickets to cue the celebrations.
"It's absolutely surreal, from where I was last time when Australia won the Ashes, and to win it now, it is absolutely surreal," Stokes, who finished with second innings figures of 21-8-36-6, said.
It is quite a sad way for Michael Clarke to leave the game, with confirmation coming through that the final Ashes Test match, now a dead rubber, will be the final one of the Australia captain, who hasn't been able to buy a run in this series.
"I think England deserved a lot of credit," Clarke said. "They showed how to execute good swing bowling, good seam bowling under these conditions. They outplayed us."
Clarke admitted the time was right to end his brilliant Australia career and hand down the baton to the next generation.
"This certainly will be the end of my career in international cricket, one more Test and that will be it," he added. "You never want to walk away from the game, but I think my performances in this series and the past 12 months haven't been good enough for me, but I certainly tried my best.
"Now it is the opportunity for the next captain to build this team up and prepare themselves for the next Ashes series."