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In the emerging context of wireless (mobile) ad-hoc networks, cross-layer design has been proposed in recent years to pursue joint optimization at various layers. Modifications to the OSI reference model have been envisaged in order to allow description of cross-layer solutions. Nevertheless, it can be also observed that a sound and reference methodology does not yet exist to support optimization, and this might severely restrict effective adoption and deployment of cross-layer solutions . In this work we propose some conjectures about exploitation of OSI-like layered approach to model and design cross-layer solutions. Specifically, we apply our method to the modelling and analysis of a particular class of cross-layer solutions, namely energy-aware routing protocols. We analyze two proposals available in the literature according to a layered structure. The applied method drives the definition of a novel energy-aware solution that, compared to the previous ones, shows better performance and provides interesting and clear insights on the role that each layer does play in the overall optimization process.