England will start as favourites for Wednesday's ICC Champions Trophy semi-final, but their opponents Pakistan have proved that they are to be written off at your peril.
The hosts cruised through Group A with a perfect record following wins over Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia to lend further weight to widespread pre-tournament predictions that Eoin Morgan's men are the team to beat.
Pakistan's progress to the last four, meanwhile, was anything but serene as they fell to a desperate 124-run hammering at the hands of fierce rivals India in their Group B opener before recovering commendably with victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Head coach Mickey Arthur was fulsome in his praise of his players in Tuesday's media conference, hailing their resolve after what he described as a "shambolic, terrible" performance against Virat Kohli's side.
The only blip during England's campaign has been the ongoing struggles of Jason Roy, whose three tournament innings have yielded just 18 runs, while the opener has made just 51 in eight one-day international knocks during this home season.
Morgan suggested on Tuesday that Jonny Bairstow would be chosen in Roy's place at the top of the order in Cardiff, with England seeking to reach a second successive Champions Trophy final and a potential repeat of the 2013 showpiece against India, who face Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Thursday.
With Roy set to make way for Bairstow, Alex Hales will be England's senior opener and it will fall to him to set the tone up front. Hales has fond memories of facing Pakistan, after crashing an England ODI best 171 from 122 balls at Trent Bridge last year as the hosts made a world record 444-3.
He guided his side home against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 61 and captain Sarfraz Ahmed will be key again for Pakistan. His aggressive approach at number six can often turn the tide in Pakistan's favour, although coach Arthur hinted on Tuesday that the skipper or Shoaib Malik could be promoted up the order.
England: Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (captain), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Imad Wasim, Fahim Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.
LAST ODI MEETING:
Already 4-0 down in the five-match series in August and September last year - which included that shellacking at Trent Bridge - Pakistan gained a measure of pride with a consolation victory in Cardiff, the same venue for Wednesday's semi-final. Chasing 303, the tourists showed fine spirit as 90 from Sarfraz and 77 from Shoaib helped them home by four wickets with 10 balls to spare.
"I'd have no worries if he has to open the batting. I certainly believe we're in a good position at the moment as a batting unit, and if Jonny does get the opportunity, I'm sure he'll take it with both hands." - Morgan remains unconcerned by the possibility of Bairstow moving up to partner Hales.
"We know that realistically England are playing unbelievably well. They're a really, really good one-day unit with no apparent weaknesses." - Arthur concedes his side are rated by many as underdogs.
- England have won 12 of their last 14 meetings with Pakistan in ODIs (L2); they did lose their most recent encounter however, that game taking place at this very venue in Cardiff.
- England have won 11 of their last 12 ODIs and have a win rate of 79 per cent in 2017 (11/14), the best of any side in the calendar year.
- Eoin Morgan is five away from reaching 5,000 ODI runs for England; only two men have already achieved this feat for England (Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood).
- Mark Wood recorded more dot balls (101) than any other bowler in the group stage.
- Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman has scored his 81 runs in the tournament from only 59 balls faced; the highest strike rate (137.3) of any batsman to score 50+ runs in the competition.
- Sarfraz Ahmed comes into this match on the back of a matchwinning 61* against Sri Lanka; he's averaged 62.7 across his seven ODI innings in England and Wales (including knocks of 90 and 61* in his two previous outings in Cardiff).