Cook took the necessary gamble of batting first under heavy cloud cover at Trent Bridge, on a dry pitch expected to deteriorate by the weekend but he was unable to see his team through the new ball as England reached 39 for one.
Australia seamers James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc had plenty in their favour as the ball swung and with the floodlights in operation.
But save for one play-and-miss from each opener - Joe Root to Pattinson's outswing and Cook when Starc took one away off the pitch - there was no joy for the tourists in a tense first half-hour.
They did not quite deserve any either, Pattinson in particular making a nervy start - only slowly finding his range after his loopy bouncer to Cook, the first ball of the series, was called a wide by umpire Aleem Dar.
Cook was responsible for the first runs off the bat, tucked off his legs in the second over off Starc.
Root needed 13 deliveries to get off the mark in his new role as a Test opener, also with a boundary, when he got just enough on a pull shot for a fine deflection.
It seemed Cook's decision at the toss was paying off until, with the final ball of the ninth over, Pattinson made the lateral movement count - drawing the England captain into an off-drive which brought only an outside-edge for a routine caught-behind.
Root was joined by Jonathan Trott and the pair reached the first drinks interval intact.
Australia had sprung a surprise this morning when they gave a debut to teenage left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.
- Sports & Recreation
- James Pattinson
- Mitchell Starc