Queensland have commenced the domestic cricket season in winning fashion, but the Cricket Australia XI proved they will be far from easybeats during this month's Matador BBQs One-Day Cup.
The Bulls were pushed hard by their young opponents at Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Saturday, before eventually prevailing with a three-wicket win.
The CA XI posted a competitive 5-274 thanks to a composed 106 on debut from Ryan Gibson, only to be overhauled with three overs remaining as Queensland survived some nervous moments to reach 7-278.
It is a far cry from this time last year when the CA XI opened their maiden season with two massive defeats, before rebounding with their only win of the six-match campaign.
"The boys are really high because we took the game to the death," said Gibson, who was named player of the match despite being on the losing side.
"There are a couple of boys left from last year, and they spoke to us new guys and told us all about what to expect.
"I'm pretty pleased with the way I went even though there was a few nerves early, but I settled down and it was pretty bad timing to get out when I did.
"The boys are really keen for this tournament and hope we can get three or four wins out of this tournament."
An entertaining late cameo from Sam Harper (41 from 26 balls) boosted the CA XI, while opening bowler Peter George (3-55) returned the best figures for the Bulls.
In reply, Queensland were looking relatively comfortable thanks to 88 from opener Matt Renshaw and a breezy 42 from dropped Australian batsman Joe Burns.
However the Bulls slipped to 4-144 and it took an impressive innings of 68 not out (off 58 balls) from debutant captain Jason Floros to get the home side over the line.
"They (the CA XI) are a bunch of good players and they are almost halfway through their season after playing in the quad series," said Floros.
"We thought 300 was par so we did really well to keep them under that. A lot of our guys stood up and played well today.
"We have a bit of momentum now, so we need to keep that rolling."
The CA XI features the best young players from around the country not selected by their state sides.
The Sheffield Shield commences in late October immediately after the one-day cup final and runs until March, while the Big Bash Twenty20 competition takes place during December and January.