Adam Gilchrist has declared Steve Smith fit to succeed Tim Paine as captain with the former skipper having repaid his dues following the ball-tampering scandal.
Gilchrist, who captained Australia six times, expects the pressure to begin to mount on Paine, 35, with Alex Carey considered a future Test wicketkeeper.
Thursday's opener against New Zealand will mark the start of the last Test series Australia play during Smith's leadership ban, which ends in late March.
Just as Gilchrist's own first-class and one-day runs put pressure on gloveman Ian Healy two decades ago, Carey is doing the same to Paine.
Carey has scored two centuries this Sheffield Shield season off a solid World Cup, averaging 71.61 for South Australia this summer.
Paine's Test average of 30.97 is the third highest of all Australian 'keepers and in Gilchrist's eyes he is one of the world's best behind the stumps.
"It's almost like deja vu - not for him, but for me - when you've got a guy like Alex Carey nipping at his heels," Gilchrist, a Fox Cricket commentator, said.
"If there's someone else who is showing signs of doing something a little bit better and can add a bit more value to the team (with batting). That's where the pressure comes on.
"His wicketkeeping seems to be extremely consistent ... as is Tim Paine's. But Carey is now starting to really accumulate important runs in first-class cricket, so that is going to really put pressure on him."
Paine has previously said this summer could be his last, but insisted on Wednesday he'd given it no further thought.
Gilchrist has been impressed by Paine's leadership following the ball-tampering scandal, and believes he should remain captain while in the team.
But he said when the time is needed for a man to replace him, Smith had repaid his dues and was ready to return to the role with Pat Cummins the other option.
"If he (Smith) wants to do it and they feel he's right to do it maybe that would be the right move for the team," Gilchrist said.
"The public either think these guys are bad guys or good guys who did something bad and have been forgiven.
"There's still a section who go they cheated. You'll never appease their mindset. They've done everything they needed to do. Smithy's well and truly done it."
Australian Associated Press