Steven Finn insisted England’s Ashes winners were short on skill, not desire on a chastening second day at the Kia Oval.
With the urn already regained, some of the intensity does appear to have dissipated from Alastair Cook’s side.
Having blown away Australia at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge to take a 3-1 series lead, they have been dealt some of their own medicine here.
Having inserted the tourists they watched as Steve Smith’s 143 set them up for a first-innings 481, then collapsed to 107 for eight at stumps.
With rain predicted for Sunday, a rare follow-on seems a near certainty on day three and Finn says the dressing room will not spare itself criticism.
“We’re disappointed about the way we played. It was a very, very poor day. There’s no hiding away from that,” said Finn, who took his 100th Test wicket when he removed Mitch Marsh.
“Every time we put on an England shirt, we want to do ourselves and our country justice - and the people who’ve paid money to come here and watch.
“I don’t think it was an ‘attitude thing’. I think we had the right attitude. But some of our execution wasn’t as good as we’d have liked it to be.
“People will go to their hotel rooms and reflect on what we could have done better.
“We have to be able to look at each other in the eye at the end of these five days and say ‘I gave everything, and fought as hard as I possibly could’.
“We don’t want to finish this series on a bum note; we want to finish it with our heads held high.”
Australia skipper Michael Clarke has declined to enforce the follow-on each of the four occasions he has had the chance, but in his final match before retirement he will surely be tempted to gamble.
“Whatever they decide to do, we have to be prepared,” Finn said.
“Whatever we have to do tomorrow, we have to do well - and everyone in the dressing room is determined to do so.
“I’m sure all our batsmen will be prepared to follow on.
“We’re not giving up this game. We have 12 wickets to score as many runs as we can and we have to do it with a determination to succeed.”
Smith’s century took him past 500 runs for the series - the first Australian to do so in England since Matthew Elliott in 1997.
He will therefore inherit the captaincy from Clarke with runs behind him, but he was keen to nod in the direction of his outgoing captain and opener Chris Rogers, who is also playing his final Test before retirement.
“We’re disappointed we can’t win the series but Michael said before the Test he wanted a lot of fight and character from us,” he said.
“We all said we wanted to send him and Chris out on a good note we’re well on the way to that at the moment.
“It just would have been nice to have a day like this at Edgbaston or Trent Bridge. But there’s plenty of motivation every time you put on a Baggy Green cap.”
The day was dogged by no-balls that went uncalled by the umpires, who seemingly only checked for overstepping in the event of a dismissal.
Both Finn and Marsh were denied wickets for overstepping while Mitchell Johnson went unpunished on at least eight occasions.
“There’s no blame to the umpires on my part for me bowling a couple of no-balls in the last two games,” said Finn.
“It’s something for me to sort out, and I have to do so.”
Smith, meanwhile, offered a typical batsman’s response.
“Bowlers need to keep their foot behind the line.”