Can the Lyon-Starc duet stop Ben Stokes? Getty

Tim Paine has marked out Nathan Lyon as the Australians' biggest weapon to stop the Ben Stokes surge in the series, which has seen the all-rounder score centuries in the last two Tests. Paine sat out of the team's tour match at Derby and instead was spotted taking notes with coach Justin Langer and chief selector Trevor Hohns for a major part of Thursday (August 29). But he did front up to the media after the end of play, and hinted that his team weren't overawed by the series-changing impact that Stokes has had already, especially with his breathtaking century in the run-chase at Leeds.

"Hold our chances would be a good start," he said when asked about plans to get the better of Stokes, "We've looked at, I think Nathan Lyon in the last two Tests alone has got him out five or six times had we held our catches or referred our LBWs. Lyono's still a huge weapon against him, and there's some things we've spoken about with our fast bowlers where we think we can do things a little better than him," the Australian Test captain said.

Paine did, however, admit that Stokes was a "huge weapon" for England and the onus was on his team to try and "contain him in the last two Test matches".

"He's a world class player, he puts bowlers under pressure and makes them do things and captains do things that you wouldn't normally do," he added.

The Australians had a "pleasing day" out against Derbyshire on Thursday (August 29) according to Paine, with Mitchell Starc and Michael Neser teaming up with new and old ball respectively to bowl out the home team for 172. Captain Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris then looked untroubled during their unbeaten partnership of 77 while Cameron Bancroft spent nearly an hour batting in the nets alongside Marnus Labuschagne.

All of Starc's three wickets came in the same over as he clean-bowled tail-enders Alfie Gleadall and Tony Palladino after having No. 7 Matthew Critchley caught down the leg-side off a pacey short-pitched delivery. There was some talk that the only time Australia have missed Starc in their line-up was when Stokes was smashing the Aussie fast bowlers over the ropes with consummate ease at Headingley. The thought was that perhaps Starc could have slipped in the yorker he bowled to knockout Stokes in the World Cup league encounter in a similar scenario.

But Paine seemed more impressed with Starc's opening spell against Derby, where he seemed to bowl within himself, and went for 15 runs in 7 overs, where he tried bowling a more English length.

"I think his opening spell today was really good. I thought he bowled in very good areas. He bowled with good pace on a wicket that was very slow. So I thought the signs that he showed with the new-ball were really good. And then like we saw again at the end, when he can go back to what his strengths are attack the stumps and use his short-balls, he's a handful for the tail as well," he said.

Paine had spoken earlier in the series about how Starc, who purely on reputation and record with the red-ball doesn't seem a natural fit in Australia's specific strategy of control and discipline with the ball for this tour, was working on improving that aspect of his game. The captain though insisted that there was no fear of the left-arm pacer losing his natural ability to bowl quick and at the stumps in that quest to transform himself in a country where he's averaged 31.24 with the ball across eight Tests and two tours.

"I think if anyone stops trying to get better, that's a problem. We know what Starcy can do in terms of blowing teams away. We also know that coming to England in the past that hasn't worked. So he's been working really hard on getting his length right more so than anything. He bowled a long spell too (seven overs and eight overs) which he doesn't do a lot when he plays for Australia," said Paine.

It's been four days since Australia saw Stokes single-handedly and emphatically drag the Ashes urn away from them after it'd looked to be well within their grasp before the last half hour at Leeds. With the fourth Test less than a week away now, the visitors do not have much time to mull over it. And Paine was confident that his team had gotten over it completely.

"I think you've just got to address it, we had some honest conversations and we know we made some errors as a team and as individuals, but we can't be holding onto that, we're in the middle of a massive series and it can happen. We've moved on, we're ready for Manchester, the group's in a really good spot, if we were 1-1 I think most people would've taken it. Without Steve Smith playing I don't think we were given any chance of winning that Test match, so without Steve Smith playing I think most people wrote us off in that Test, so we're tracking ok," he said.

Smith will have to wait for his turn to bat again in the middle for the first time since his dramatic knock at Lord's with Khawaja and Harris looking set for lengthy knocks themselves. But his return for Manchester is confirmed and Paine said it was up to the players vying for a spot in the playing XI to "get our selectors to make difficult decisions". It's pretty certain that it'll be one of the two openers in Derby who'll miss out at Smith's expense.

"Steve Smith is going to come back in and play. So obviously someone from the last Test is going to miss out. There's no doubt about that. To be honest, I'm not too sure who might not be playing. I think we'll know a lot more by the end of this game. There's a huge opportunity for guys in this game to to make sure we got our selectors making really tough decisions and both those guys have started really well so yeah it's a pleasing day," he said.