If this was indeed some kind of preview for next summer, the Ashes will not be pretty viewing.
On a mostly grim day in Lancashire, Australia's forgettable tour of England wound up appropriately, beaten comfortably in the final one-day international to finish on the wrong end of a 4-0 romp - their heaviest ever defeat in a bilateral ODI series.
Had rain not come to their aid to cancel the Edgbaston leg of the series, Australia would almost certainly be surrendering their world No 1 ranking today.
In truth, they really should be.
The weather served to reduce Tuesday's game to 32 overs a side but that did Michael Clarke's team no favours as they were held to 7-145, the wreckage of their top and middle order reminiscent of the half-demolished old pavilion at Old Trafford.
England, via captain Alastair Cook (58) and Ravi Bopara (52 not out) then strode to victory with few dramas, winning by seven wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method with 11 balls left.
Talk of impending Ashes gloom is slightly alarmist. The most anticipated of test series is 12 months down the track and as impotent as Australia look they have been here without half a dozen players likely to be in Clarke's XI next summer, and playing in a different format.
Due to the rain the fifth match was, in fact, a hybrid mode somewhere between Twenty20 and 50-over cricket and barely relevant.
Yet, as the absent Kevin Pietersen has noted, England have struck a powerful "mental" blow in the past fortnight.
Australia's confidence is close to rock bottom on the same turf and under the same skies they will tread in a year's time and they don't look to have the firepower to match the old enemy. Even a perplexed Mickey Arthur, their coach, concedes there is "something missing" about this one-day team. The cynic might suggest what is missing is more than a few top-quality international players.
George Bailey may not be considered quite in that category yet but if not for his late cameo - making an unbeaten 46 from 44 balls - the outcome in Manchester might have been plainly embarrassing.
Arthur called for "mongrel" in the series finale but the tourists' bark was barely audible. Bailey's mature contribution was the standout and, along with the bowling of Clint McKay, has been among the only tangible highlights on the tour.
Australia began well enough, surviving James Anderson and Steven Finn's early onslaught, and there was a hint that David Warner might be in the mood to characteristically cut loose when he smacked Stuart Broad down the ground for six. But after being given an incredible life on 30 when Samit Patel dropped the unspillable at third man, the left-hander was trapped leg-before for 32 in the next over to England's other practitioner of spin, James Tredwell (2-23).
The 30-year-old off-break bowler from Kent has about as much hair as Tony Greig and had a reputation for turning the ball about as sharply as a semi-trailer. But playing his first game for England in more than a year - Graeme Swann was rested to nurse a sore elbow - he almost looked a magician on a favourable track in fooling Australia's other opener Matthew Wade (12).
Warner's exit triggered chaos in the Australian batting order - Peter Forrest (3) and Clarke (1) were run out maddeningly - and Ravi Bopara (2-8) had both Steve Smith (21) and David Hussey (9) caught trying to flick the medium-pacer to third man. Forrest in particular looked a fish out of water and while he remains a potential future Test batsman surely his limited-overs tenure is over for now after scoring only 15 runs in 45 balls in this series. Hussey's disappointment was heightened by twinging a hamstring, preventing him from fielding.
Bailey, meanwhile, enhanced his growing standing with a crucial late assault, playing the lead role in a 34-run partnership with James Pattinson and accruing most of the 25 runs scored in the final two overs.
Another brief downpour gave England a revised target of 138 from 29 overs but after breakthoughs by McKay and Clarke - removing Ian Bell for 4 and Jonathan Trott for 10 - gave Australia a glimmer of hope Cook and Bopara coasted most of the way home to secure the whitewash.
Australia fly out of Heathrow on Wednesday and the plane can't lift off soon enough.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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