Three years ago this week England were on the end of a terrible ODI flogging at the Wellington Cake Tin, as part of a dismal World Cup campaign.

They'd already been whistled out for 123 by Tim Southee and battered out of sight by Brendon McCullum's 77 off 25 balls.

Then Sri Lanka smeared them by nine wickets on the same ground a few days later - making 312 for one to win, if you please.

Today is their first time back on the Wellington ground for an ODI and the England side has changed out of sight.

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Only five players remain, but the improvements are significant, the results far better and the attitude and philosophy are so far removed as to render the old England irrelevant.

"I don't think you can look at previous games too much," batting linchpin Joe Root said. "It's a very different team now to the one that played in that World Cup."

Quite right, too, and now it's New Zealand who need to be on guard today for game three in what is shaping as as intriguing series, all square 1-1 but with just a hint England may have the bit between their teeth.

Their new ball bowling is strong and on the money; they have a limited-overs batting genius in captain Eion Morgan; and assertive allrounder Ben Stokes rapidly finding his feet again after his enforced four-month absence.

"He made it look pretty easy," New Zealand swing bowler Trent Boult said of Stokes' unbeaten 63 off 74 balls, to follow two run outs and a couple of wickets, in the comprehensive six-wicket win at Mt Maunganui on Wednesday night.

"He's a classy player, he's proven himself all around the world and as a bowling group we need to stick to what we're trying to do to him."

Which is? "Dismiss him as early as possible."

News from the New Zealand camp yesterday was a curate's egg; captain Kane Williamson has been passed fit to return after his hamstring strain, but in-form veteran Ross Taylor is out. His quad strain has meant he won't return until at least game four in Dunedin next Wednesday.

New Zealand were awful at Mt Maunganui but they had won their previous nine on the bounce, albeit against opposition which varied between erratic and downright dreadful.

England are neither of those.

Their bowlers are attacking and finding ways to both restrict and take wickets.

At Mt Maunganui they got quality performances from new ball pair Chris Woakes and David Willey, enabling spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to restrict New Zealand through the middle of their innings, conceding 42 singles, a two and just five fours in a combined 120 balls.

The batting is strong and deep, and all generally like to get on with the job, therefore they try to keep the heat on the bowlers.

New Zealand will look to move on smartly, as is their mantra. Don't dwell on what's happened, for better or worse, but push ahead and get better; that seems the approach.

"No doubt we were severely outplayed in all facets," Boult said of Wednesday's beating. "[Mt Maunganui] wasn't a very good representation of how we want to do things."

The teams met in a T20 last month on an awful looking pitch at the Cake Tin, with a bare rectangular patch, but it played better than it looked. New Zealand won narrowly on the back of 196 for five in the first innings.

New Zealand will take narrow in what seems a tasty series taking shape.