In the England dressing room it is naturally unthinkable that the team talk bears any resemblance to: "We won the Ashes and we don't care." Try as they might, however, there is no avoiding the dustcart element to England's passage through the one-day matches, the glittering Lord Mayor's Show having preceded it.
They desperately want to beat Australia in the NatWest Series, partly because of the opposition, partly because it is integral to their preparation for the Champions Trophy later this month. Many of their squad took no part in that other contest at the height of the summer though the senior men were at its core.
But it is all going horribly wrong at present and signs of relief are few. Australia, efficient and perhaps also the hungrier of the two sides (it is a long way to travel and a long time to stay to return empty-handed), went 3-0 ahead last night. They need only to win one more match to claim a trophy which has slightly less kudos than the terracotta urn no longer in their possession but it will show England's limited overs progress to be disappointing. That estimation would be in the judgement of those being kind, others of more rigorous assessment would be much sterner.
For the third match in succession, England did not make as many runs as they ought to have done. Where Australia's bowling on a slow surface was controlled, even restrained, England were guilty of poor judgement and execution. They began briskly enough but the innings in all contained five partnerships of between 34 and 41.
That the first four of those failed to prosper further indicated their shortcomings. The fifth of them a defiant 40 between Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Bresnan made their hole somewhat smaller, coming in the last seven overs of the innings. It made the total respectable, perhaps defendable but England had to scramble for it while Australia could pace their reply accordingly.
They did so all but painlessly by six wickets with nine balls to spare. Cameron White made his maiden one-day hundred, sharing a third-wicket partnership with his captain Michael Clarke of 143 from 184 balls that effectively sealed the match. In his 20 ODI innings before this series began, White had failed to score a fifty. His scores in the first three matches of this series are 53, 42 and 105 which demonstrates the necessity of perseverance, a quality England may also have to exhibit in the case of their under-performers.
White should have been run out on 46 and 70, Jimmy Anderson being culpable by missing the stumps on both occasions, and caught when he was 92 at long on where a straightforward chance went into and out of Tim Bresnan's hands. But Australia's wildly experimental top three of Shane Watson, Tim Paine and White is succeeding where England's trio, equally makeshift, is being exposed.
The absence of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff from England's team is being felt more keenly with each passing ball. The team without them lacks not only style but conviction.
If Flintoff is being missed as much for his immense presence as his unerring bowling and fitful batting, Pietersen's runs as well as his aura appear to be irreplaceable.
The unenviable task of filling Pietersen's boots and scoring his runs at number three has been handed for this series and presumably for the Champions Trophy to Matt Prior. There is no man more willing but Prior's being at the top of England's one-day order has almost never worked.
Perhaps he is not being helped by having to follow Ravi Bopara, who is simply out of form and was caught from a miscued steepling drive. Prior lasted four balls before pulling to square leg.
Andrew Strauss was the main contributor to England's innings with 63, as he has been frequently since returning to the side in January. He accumulated diligently again but like too many colleagues got out when he should have gone on, clipping to mid-wicket.
Owais Shah was unluckily leg before but played a needless forcing shot across the line, Paul Collingwood hacked to mid-on and while Eoin Morgan made his highest score for England it took him time to settle.
England were looking for a new team in selecting this squad for both this series and the Champions Trophy. But the decision to do without the Warwickshire batsmen, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, Ashes heroes both to varying degrees, begins to look distinctly odder than it did at the time the team was picked.
Australia did not rush, they did not need to and they milked England's finest. But the full house at the Rose Bowl knew what was going on. They were disappearing long before the end.
A man apart: Strauss stands out
In 10 innings since his one-day recall, Andrew Strauss has hit 18 per cent of England's runs at an average of 42.4.
15 (of 270) v WI, Guyana, 20 March 09
105 (243) v WI, Guyana, 22 March 09
2 (117) v WI, Bridgetown, 27 March 09
79* (136) v WI, Bridgetown, 29 Mar 09
3 (172) v WI, St Lucia, 3 April 09
4 (161) v WI, Bristol, 24 May 09
52 (203) v WI, Edgbaston, 26 May 09
12 (256) v Australia, The Oval, 4 Sep 09
47 (210) v Australia, Lord's, 6 Sep 09
63 (229) v Australia, Rose Bowl, 9 Sep
The Rose Bowl Scoreboard
Third one-day international; England v Australia (Australia won by six wickets)
England won toss
*A J Strauss c Clarke b Hauritz 63
R S Bopara c Hopes b Bracken 10
†M J Prior c Hopes b Johnson 0
O A Shah lbw b Johnson 8
P D Collingwood c Bracken b Watson 28
E J G Morgan c Johnson b Lee 43
L J Wright c Sub b Hopes 9
T T Bresnan not out 31
G P Swann lbw b Watson 3
R J Sidebottom c White b Watson 24
Extras (lb1 w4 nb4) 9
Total (9 wkts, 50 overs)228
Fall: 1-41 2-41 3-62 4-98 5-132 6-147 7-183 8-188 9-228
Did not bat: J M AndersonBowling: Lee 9-1-58-1; Bracken 10-0-36-1; Johnson 10-1-39-2; Hopes 7-0-34-1; Hauritz 6-0-24-1; Watson 8-0-36-3.
S R Watson lbw b Anderson7
T D Paine lbw b Collingwood 29
C L White c Sidebottom b L J Wright 105
M J Clarke b Swann 52
C J Ferguson not out 19
M E K Hussey not out8
Extras b1 lb3 w 610
Total 4 wkts (48.3 overs) 230
Fall: 1-16 2-52 3-195 4-220
Did not bat: J R Hopes, M G Johnson, N M Hauritz, N W Bracken.
Bowling: Anderson 9.3-1-52-1; Sidebottom 10-1-39-0; Bresnan 10-1-45-0; Collingwood 7-0-39-1; L J Wright 7-1-16-1; Swann 5-0-35-1.
Umpires: PJ Hartley and AL Hill (NZ).Reuse content