Andrew Strauss admitted to regrets and frustrations after England were outplayed in all departments in their innings defeat against South Africa at the Kia Oval.
Ian Bell (55) did his best to try to salvage an unlikely draw on the final day, but Dale Steyn (five for 56) ensured the gulf in performance was duly converted into a trouncing, with a session to spare in the first Investec Test. It means England have just two more games, starting at Headingley next week, to turn their fortunes around.
Strauss did not seek to argue against the evidence of England's frailties at the Oval, saying: "I don't sit there ranking defeats, but we were outplayed. There are a number of areas where we are frustrated. There are regrets there, but we will learn the lessons and come back strong next week."
Had Bell and others managed a great escape, it would have been a laudable effort but a travesty in many ways too after South Africa had piled up a mammoth 637 for two declared thanks to Hashim Amla's historic triple-century and hundreds too from captain Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.
England faltered most obviously when they failed to build on a first-day stumps total of 267 for three - and then when their much-vaunted bowling attack barely managed to find any movement off the pitch or in the air with three successive new balls.
Strauss also rued the loss of four wickets on the penultimate evening, after Smith's teatime declaration, saying: "I suppose South Africa had a bit of a psychological advantage, with us having been in the field for a period of time. But we did not react well enough to that, and that leaves a sour taste in the mouth."
As for managing just two wickets in 189 overs themselves, he added: "The wicket was at its most placid. We could not get the ball swinging either way. It was always going to be hard work for us. South Africa never gave us an end to bowl at. When we did get someone in, Kallis got a hundred of his own."
Strauss knows time is short now, for England to regroup and at least retain their number one status by earning a series draw, but added: "I still think we will come back into the series. We have often played our best when we have come off a defeat, and this is a good challenge for us. We have two games and we have to win them both to win the series.
"I have huge confidence in our players to do that. But we need to use the time this week wisely to put the game to bed and learn lessons from it, recharge batteries and make sure we are ready to go next week.
"Everyone needs to go away and think about what they did in this Test match and steel themselves as much as possible to come and play some good, hard cricket next week - because that is what it will take next week."