Alastair Cook has warned that Australia's recent 4-0 Test drubbing in India is "irrelevant" ahead of this summer's Ashes series.
Australia endured an arduous tour both on and off the field, with vice-captain Shane Watson being sent home along with three other players for failing to provide performance feedback to coach Mickey Arthur.
Watson was restored to the side as captain for the final Test in Delhi when Michael Clarke's tour was ended by a back injury, and India wrapped up a series whitewash with a comfortable six-wicket win.
But Cook claimed the result will have little bearing on the build-up to the Ashes, and he insisted England were not clear favourites to retain the famous urn.
"I wouldn't read too much into what happened in India with Australia," he said. "The conditions were very different to what we are going to experience in England.
"They are going to be a very tough side to beat. They have got some world-class players. The Ashes is a unique event so hopefully it will bring the best out of both sides.
"The favourites stuff is all off the field. You can read all you want about that sort of stuff but it is irrelevant."
The Ashes concludes at The Oval in August, but England then travel to Australia in November for the first back-to-back Ashes series in history.
Cook added: "We're the first England team to play back-to-back Ashes series so close together so the potential and the opportunity to do something very special is there."