After dismissing the home side for 172, Australia were largely untroubled by the Derbyshire attack to reach 0/77 at stumps on the first day.
Selectors would doubtless be happy Smith was not required as it meant openers Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja were able to spend more time at the crease.
The quality of the local bowling was well short of Test class but, as Khawaja pointed out on the eve of the game, there is no substitute for match practice.
Dominating the strike, Harris outscored his temporary captain by almost three to one, finishing the day unbeaten on 52 while Khawaja is on 18.
“I think if you bowl a bad ball to Harry he puts it away and I think that puts guys under pressure,” Test captain Tim Paine said.
“He’s just an attacking opening batter and he keeps the scoreboard moving, but as he’s shown in Shield cricket he’s got the ability to bat for a long time and score big hundreds when he gets in, we know that Harry’s got Test runs in him.”
Khawaja, deputising as captain in this game, had a nervous moment on 15 when he mis-timed a drive against Alfie Gleadall, narrowly avoiding giving a return catch.
Neser, the last of the six quicks picked in the Ashes squad, was the pick of the Australian bowlers, capturing three wickets before lunch though his chances of collecting a baggy green in the fourth Test are remote.
Starc, with 3/46 from 16 overs, impressed Paine with his pace and length but, in keeping with the trend of his performances since last year’s series in South Africa, had more success against the lower order.
The former Test spearhead was wicketless with the new ball, his strikes coming against numbers seven, eight and nine, including two off consecutive balls.
“We know what Starcy can do in terms of blowing teams away. We also know that coming to England in the past that hasn’t worked,” Paine said.
“So he’s been working really hard on getting his length right more so than anything. I think his opening spell today was really good.
“I thought he bowled in very good areas. He bowled with good pace on a wicket that was very slow. So I thought the signs that he showed with the new-ball were really good.
“I thought he controlled pretty well and the areas he has been trying to improve so he can be important for us in English conditions I thought he showed today he’s going really well with that.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald