Dubai: Australia head home from Abu Dhabi this week with plenty to ponder after a humiliating rout by Pakistan brought a shuddering halt to their upward trajectory in test cricket.
After the 5-0 Ashes drubbing of England and a dramatic 2-1 series win in South Africa around the New Year, Australia would have returned to the top of the test rankings if they had beaten Pakistan in both matches.
Instead, defeat in Dubai by 221 runs and Abu Dhabi by 356 runs for a first series loss to Pakistan in two decades plunged Michael Clarke`s team back into the deep trough they inhabited after a 4-0 sweep in India last year.
"We have got to obviously talk about what`s just happened, we were hopeful that we learnt some lessons from our trip to India, but it doesn`t look that way," Clarke told reporters in the Emirati capital.
"Your goal has to be to try and become better, I say that regularly but our performances here weren`t any better than what they were in India.
"The best teams win away from home consistently, it just shows we`ve got a lot of work to do," he added.
"That`s a pretty accurate reflection of where we are as a team, we`re much more comfortable playing in our own back yard."
Fortunately for Clarke, Australia`s next test series is at home to India, who were routed 4-0 by a mediocre Australia side the last time they toured in 2011-12.
Clarke took at least some positives from the Pakistan series, most particularly the 164 runs all rounder Mitchell Marsh scored with the bat in his first two tests.
"There`s have been some individual positives but as a group we need to assess where we didn`t go particularly well and that`s over all three facets of the game," Clarke added.
"As a team, there`s no doubt we`ll be happy to go home and play in conditions that we`re accustomed to, that`s for sure."
The 33-year-old`s own batting form -- 57 runs in four innings -- was as much of a concern for Clarke as it will be for his country.
"I`m probably most angry with myself," he said.
"I have always prided myself on leading by example and in the series that we`ve lost since I have been captain, I have been able at least to stand up and lead from the front whereas in this series I haven`t done that.
"I don`t have any excuse for underperforming and I`ll be judged like every other player that is underperforming, there`s no doubt about that."