Ollie Campbell, the former outside-half, has told Ireland they need to come up with a fresh approach to the international game if they are to have any chance of becoming heavyweight contenders again in the Test arena.
Ireland regained their pride - bruised by the 40-25 defeat against Western Samoa on 12 November - as they threatened to end Australia's unbeaten tour record before losing, 22-12, at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
It was the morale-boosting display their New Zealand coach Murray Kidd needed as Ireland build towards the Five Nations' Championship. But Campbell warned that the encouraging performance would herald another false dawn for Irish rugby unless a spark of creativity was discovered. "It is just typical of us that give us a so-called minnows team to play and we can't cope yet against a top side like Australia we push them so close.
"We just don't like being the favourites; we much prefer being underdogs," added Campbell, a member of Ireland's Triple Crown-winning team in 1982. "It was the same in my day - it must be a mental thing.
"That extra bit of invention was lacking. It is the missing piece in the jig-saw, really, because you could not doubt the commitment. Ireland are building a team, but as someone told me recently we've been doing that for the past 125 years!"
Only in the final 20 minutes, when Ireland began to tire, did Australia dominate, a flurry of 13 points giving them their ninth successive win on their European tour. The Australian outside-half David Knox sealed victory with his try three minutes from time.
But the victory came at a major cost for the Wallabies. Captain and line- out maestro John Eales suffered a fractured eye socket and is out of the remainder of the tour. Tim Horan has taken over the captaincy. Eales' injury occurred midway through the second-half when he was tackled high by the Irish centre Mark McCall. Uncapped lock David Giffin is likely to partner Warwick Waugh in the second-row against Wales on Sunday. Ireland's Five Nations' chances were also dealt a blow. Full-back Jim Staples is likely to be out for at least three months after breaking a bone in his wrist.
The Australian coach, Greg Smith, reacted to criticism over a lack of style showed by the Wallabies compared with other tours. "The methods and strategies are a reflection of playing in the northern hemisphere rather than what we would use if we were playing in our own country. If we moved back to the southern hemisphere we would play the game differently but it is a complex thing. It involves things like the pitches, referees and the feasibility of the rucking game."
Ireland: Penalties Burke 4. Australia: Tries: D Knox; Conversion Burke; Penalties Burke 5.
IRELAND: J Staples (Harlequins); J Topping (Ballymena), J Bell (Northampton), M McCall (Dungannon), D Crotty (Garryowen); P Burke (Bristol), S McIvor (Garryowen); N Popplewell (Newcastle), K Wood (capt, Harlequins), P Wallace (Saracens), G Fulcher (London Irish), J Davidson (London Irish), D Corkery (Bristol), D McBride (Malone), A Foley (Shannon). Replacement: M Field (Malone) for Staples, 13.
AUSTRALIA: M Burke (New South Wales); J Little (Queensland), D Herbert (Queensland), T Horan (Queensland), J Roff (Australian Capital Territory); D Knox (ACT), G Gregan (ACT); D Crowley (Queensland), M Foley (Queensland), A Blades (NSW), W Waugh (NSW) J Eales (Queensland, capt), D Manu (NSW), D Wilson (Queensland), M Brial (NSW). Replacement: B Robinson (ACT) for Eales, 61.
Referee: B Campsall (England).