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Orlandi et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 770, 2015, pp. 424–441) present direct numerical simulations over a very wide Reynolds number range for plane Couette and Poiseuille flows. The results reveal new information on the abrupt nature of transition in these flows, and the comparisons between Couette and Poiseuille flows help to provide a clearer picture of Reynolds number trends, especially with regard to inner/outer layer interactions. The stress distributions give strong support to Townsend’s attached eddy hypothesis, particularly for the wall-parallel component where there has been little experimental data available. The results pose some intriguing questions regarding the reconciliation of the present results with data at higher Reynolds numbers in different canonical flows.