Lewis Hamilton described claiming pole position for the Australian Grand Prix as "an incredible feeling" as McLaren locked out the front row of a grid for the first time in two and a half years.
Hamilton clinched the 20th pole of his Formula One career by 0.152secs from team-mate Jenson Button with a lap of one minute 24.992secs around Melbourne's Albert Park.
As for reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was on the front row in 18 of 19 races last year, the Red Bull star could only qualify sixth, his worst grid position since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix.
A delighted Hamilton said: "It's an incredible feeling to be back here (on pole) and to get off to such a good start.
"I think this is mine and Jenson's first one-two - I believe at least - in qualifying, so it's fantastic to start the season this way.
"I'm massively proud of the team, working incredibly hard as every year they do, but to see they never give up, and this is the result of that."
Although Hamilton won from pole in Australia in 2008, and went on to win the title that year, he knows one pole Down Under does not mean too much in the grand scheme of things.
"It's going to be incredibly tough, a very intense race," added Hamilton.
"Of course, there's still a long way to go tomorrow, and looking after the tyres will be key, but we're in the best possible position to have a strong race.
"The team need to be on point, and so do me and Jenson, so we'll make sure we do that."
It was the 20th pole of Hamilton's career - a figure he is still coming to terms with.
"I still can't believe I've had so many pole positions," said the 27-year-old, who now only has 10 drivers ahead of him in F1's all-time pole list topped by Michael Schumacher with 68.
"For me, every one has been special and particularly this one. To come straight into the season and start off so well is an amazing feeling.
"Of course, with the tough couple of years past, it's definitely a good way to start off on the right foot."
For Button, who has so far never been on pole with McLaren, it will be the fourth time he has started from the front row since he joined the team at the start of 2010.
Like Hamilton, he expressed his enormous pride at just how hard all within the team have worked to propel himself and Hamilton to the head of affairs.
"First of all, congratulations to Lewis and the whole team. I think we have done a very good job this winter and I think we have proved that today," said Button.
"It is only the beginning and obviously the lights haven't gone out yet, but this is a great first result for us on a Saturday.
"But it's looking like it's going to be a very exciting season."
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh was delighted, but tried to keep a lid on expectations.
"Taking the front row is a pretty nice feeling, we haven't done it as frequently as we'd have liked recently," said Whitmarsh.
"Although there's a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, we've been around long enough to know that whilst poles are great, it's wins that score points and are more enduring.
"But both guys did a fantastic job, great laps from both of them, so we deserve the front row. People have worked hard during the winter, so it's all very satisfying.
"But there are 58 laps tomorrow, we have to avoid mistakes, as have they, we have to be cool with our strategy, make sure we are reliable, and the win is certainly achievable."
Remarkably, it is an unusual combination on the second row with Romain Grosjean giving Lotus a stunning start to their season as the Frenchman lines up third at the beginning of his second stint in F1, with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher fourth.
Contrast that with world champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who failed to even to make it out of the opening 20-minute session and starts 18th.
"Today didn't quite go as planned," the Finn said.
"There's no issue with the car, I made a mistake and there was a communication issue, so the timing wasn't right to get another lap.
"It cost us a good qualifying position, but that's how it goes sometimes."
As for Grosjean, naturally he felt overwhelmed as he said: "Today is like a dream come true.
"When I heard my position over the radio I could not believe it.
"This third position shows one thing - you must believe in your dreams and hold on to them, whatever happens."
Vettel, meanwhile, did his best to extract the positive from an underwhelming start to his bid to become only the third driver in F1 history to win three successive titles.
"We would have loved to have been closer to the front, but in Q3 I wasn't happy with my lap," said Vettel.
"I made a mistake at the beginning and lost some time, so that was down to me. I could have been one or two places higher, but that's how it goes.
"We are not starting at the front, but we are not starting at the back either, so it's far from disastrous."
As for Ferrari, their day was not far off being a disaster, with Fernando Alonso sliding into the gravel in Q2 to leave him down in 12th, whilst team-mate Felipe Massa lines up 16th, one behind Paul di Resta in his Force India.
Grosjean's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen also had a shocker - he will start down in 17th.
The Finn initially qualified 18th, but was elevated a place due to Sergio Perez's five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.