Forecasts overnight predicted the worst but Alastair Cook and Mahendra Singh Dhoni made it out for the toss on time for a planned 10.30am start, with the home skipper winning and choosing to bowl first.
But as the national anthems were played a light shower began and the covers were brought on behind the teams, who immediately left the field.
From there on the groundstaff saw more action than the players, fetching the covers on and off on three occasions as the rain eased off and then restarted with frustrating regularity.
Umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker were set to complete a mid-day inspection but the heaviest rain yet forced an early lunch to be taken at 12.30pm.
As and when play does get under way the match conditions will be significantly altered, with a reduction in overs already a certainty.
With no reserve day in place, the trophy would be shared in the event of no play.
Technically that would end England's 38-year wait for a first global 50-over success, though hardly in the desired circumstances.
As the showers abated, and were replaced by patches of blue sky, a 3pm inspection was announced - as long as rain did not return in the meantime.
After the inspection, it was announced a 24 overs-per-side match would start at 3.45pm - providing the bad weather did not return.
By 3.45pm, the weather had once again deteriorated - with more dark clouds threatening - and therefore the ground was back under full cover.
The cut-off point for a contest of any sort was thought to be between 4.15pm and 4.30pm, to allow 20 overs per side.
The prospect of a washout, and therefore a shared trophy with no reserve day available, was apparently imminent.
The last chance of salvaging a match was a plan to start play at 4.20pm, with the minimum 20 overs per side still available at that point.
That announcement was made just before 4pm and was, of course, dependent on no more rain.