1) Use element of surprise against over confident India
This is England's toughest overseas tour. In alien conditions and with their hosts unbeaten in 13 Tests there seems an air of inevitability. This year India have whitewashed Australia 4-0 and emphatically beaten both South Africa and New Zealand 3-0. Virat Kohli's side are confident and a fervent nation expects. England must get an early foothold in the series to create doubt amongst their opposition and in the stands.
For India are facing a new look England. They last played a Test series in 2014 when England won 3-1 on home soil. The teams last met in India in 2012/13 when England took the four-match series 2-1. Of England's current squad, only Cook, Stuart Broad, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow made the trip. Root made his debut and Bairstow played just one Test. They are both a different propositions this time around.
India have not won a Test series against England since 2007. England, vastly inexperienced in subcontinent conditions, present Kohli's men with a fresh challenge. Despite modern technology bringing every shot and ball they've bowled onto Indian laptops, England have an opportunity to use unfamiliarity to their advantage.
2) Don't let Kohli flower
India's captain has thoroughly enjoyed 2016, not only because his team have seemingly become unbeatable in Test cricket. He's notched two Test double hundreds and been even more prolific in one-day formats. You sense if England curb Kohli they cut off Samsom's hair. India have other stars to cope with, but England must first temper their talisman.
3) Learn how to play spin and trust their own
England's fresh-faced side are tasked with learning their craft in the cauldron of Test cricket in India. With the first two venues in the series making their Test bows people seem unsure how the tracks might play. Don't be naïve. They will be dry and turn square from day one as India rightly play to their strengths.
For Bangladesh it was 19-year-old off-spinning debutant Mehedi Hasan who bamboozled England. India have far more experienced twirlers. Amit Mishra has 71 wickets at 34 and Ravindra Jadeja's 64 wickets have cost just 17.
It is Ravi Ashwin who has grabbed the headlines with 220 wickets from just 39 Tests at an average of 24.29. He's claimed four successive Man of the Series awards and worryingly for England is getting better. In his last 15 Tests he's taken 101 wickets at 16.77. Conditions in India suit him - 70% of his scalps taken on home soil.
When England won in India in 2012/13 it was their own spin twins who did the damage. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar beat the Indians at their own game by collecting 37 wickets between them. England require Moeen Ali to prove that he's a Test quality spinner. He's somewhat been shoehorned into the frontline role. This tour is his opportunity to prove himself the genuine article.
Adil Rashid must also step up. There is no doubt the leggie has serious talent, but he's far too prone to leak a boundary ball and release pressure. Is this their time?
4) Cook and Root must out bat India
Ideally England will win the toss and post 500-plus totals. A lot hinges on Cook and Root, their most successful campaigners. Cook has previously experienced success in the subcontinent and Root rarely fails. Jonny Bairstow has scored over a thousand Test runs this calendar year.
The inexperienced Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed allied to the form of Gary Ballance are potential weaknesses. Calls for Jos Buttler to bat in the top order however seem optimistic. A Test average of 30 from 15 appearances against weaker opposition doesn't match his world-class efforts in the one-day game.
In the Second Test against Bangladesh England lost 10 wickets for 64 runs in 135 balls. Despite their recent success, England seem perpetually one wicket away from a collapse. Often three down for not many they have grown dependent on their strong middle order bailing them out of trouble. Against the current number one Test side in world cricket this is not a reliable Plan A.
Cook has skippered his nation 54 times and goes past Mike Atherton as his nation's most capped captain in the next Test. He still has a tendency to be a cautious captain, batting too long before declaring and sitting back in the field waiting for something to happen. In India he must grab rare opportunities to stamp his authority on the series.
5) Wrap Ben Stokes in cotton wool
England's aggressive all-rounder has a Botham-like ability to change games. His 85 in the First Test against Bangladesh was vital. He takes wickets too and England need him fit and firing. That said, number six is too high in the order for the Durham left-hander. Give the in-form Bairstow, a right-hander, a boost up the order and let Stokes come in at seven and give it a blast.
6) Eat carefully, get lucky
England have often been forced to ring the changes as tourists drop like flies in India. Despite not knowing their best XI, it's best to avoid enforced changes due to sickness.
Another thing, often overlooked and impossible to plan for. Despite meticulous preparation, perseverance and concentration England will need more than a slice of luck to come away from india with their dignity intact. Many games have changed on a dropped catch, the toss of a coin or a moment of madness.
It's going to be tough!
Follow James on Twitter @Cricket_Badger
Check out Ed Hawkins' betting preview of the series