I was working on adding the ability to set a default product list sorting option for just search results, when I noticed that
\app\code\core\Mage\CatalogSearch\Block\Result.php has the method
setListOrders(). I couldn't find any PHP code that called this method, but did find this:
This suggests to me that the method is simply called, without passing any data, at some point before the layout is rendered. Can someone tell me more about how this works, and where this happens in the process of building the page?