As Brad Haddin observed the day before this match, winning is a habit and so is losing. On the evidence of an SCG contest that ended with Australia wrapping up their second consecutive ODI series victory over England in the minimum three matches, the hosts' predilection for the former is matched by their visitors' weakness for the latter.
Though less dramatic and perhaps less demoralising than James Faulkner's Gabba heist had been, this defeat underlined England's rut and Australia's peak as well as any of the seven previous matches on the tour. Alastair Cook's side won the toss on a pitch favouring the side batting first and made a swift start, yet found themselves fatally slowed as much by their own lack of conviction as Australia's neat bowling and high class fielding.
Australia's chase was not quite perfect, as no batsman made a hundred and wickets were lost to loose strokes, but the belief surging through the team was demonstrated by the jaunty run rate pursued throughout, and best exemplified by the sight of David Warner swinging a six down the ground the over after Aaron Finch's dismissal playing a similarly full-blooded stroke.
Warner perished when a century beckoned, but Shaun Marsh, Michael Clarke and Haddin had little trouble galloping to victory. They did so with a gaping 10 overs to spare, and could look proudly upon the fact they had done so without having any of Mitchell Johnson, George Bailey or Clint McKay in their XI.
The only moment of unease arrived in late afternoon when Eoin Morgan's lone English rearguard was terminated. His dismissal to a low return catch by Daniel Christian required a replay for confirmation after Morgan stood his ground, provoking an angry response from Clarke.
England's innings was otherwise characterised by a failure to convert starts into substantial scores, due in part to another exceptional fielding exhibition by Clarke's men. Glenn Maxwell took a sharp catch at point to end Cook's fluent 35, while Warner's run out of Ian Bell and Clarke's own catch to remove a becalmed Ben Stokes were truly outstanding.
Xavier Doherty, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Maxwell all delivered useful spells, though it was more of a struggle for James Pattinson in his first international appearance since last year's Lord's Test. Straining for effect but lacking rhythm, his six overs cost 41.
Australia's pursuit began with a lengthy delay while a sight screen issue was addressed, before Warner avoided being run out without facing a ball when Ravi Bopara's throw missed the stumps while the opener was still well short of his ground, having been called through for a swift single by Finch. This hiccup did not prevent the score from mounting quickly, as Warner in particular found ideal timing for the slowish pitch.
Finch was no less proactive, but his tendency to drive balls at a catchable height was to cost him once more, Bopara claiming the chance at cover. Warner was not perturbed in the slightest by the wicket, crashing Tim Bresnan over long off for six the very next over, and proceeding on his merry way at a pace that quickly shrank the target.
Marsh thus had time to get established, and their stand reaped a swift 78 before Warner shelled to cover while trying to repeat a boundary from the previous ball. Clarke kept the rate ticking at well above the requirement, gliding to a breezy 34 that was ended by perhaps the ball of the night - a Bopara inducker that perforated the captain's attempted drive.
Haddin gained a promotion in the order through the injury-enforced absence of Bailey, and delighted the healthy and hearty crowd of 37,823 by closing in on the target with a series of brazen blows. Marsh, building confidence with every run, applied the final touch with a pleasant flick over midwicket.
Cook had played with hitherto unseen freedom, even striking his first six of the tour, but his dismissal with the total at 50 in the ninth over allowed Clarke to exert greater pressure and limit the flow of runs. The over before his dismissal Cook had been given lbw, playing across a skidder from Doherty, who had been introduced early by Clarke. But his review showed the ball to be skimming over the top of the stumps.
Bell's innings also promised much, but was ended by a stupendous direct hit from Warner, who threw the stumps down square of the wicket and halfway to the boundary. Stokes, promoted to No. 3, struggled in his new position, scratching his way to 15 without a boundary before perishing to a quite superb catch from Clarke, diving low to his right at square leg to intercept a flat and well-struck sweep shot.
Gary Ballance and Bopara also made starts, before each erred slightly in their choice of stroke to be snapped up in the field. Coulter-Nile, who bowled tidily for his three wickets, coaxed Ballance to slice an airy cut shot to deep point, while Faulkner tempted Bopara into edging behind as he tried to glide the ball to third man.
Morgan was left to pick up the pieces, striking a pair of compelling sixes over cover and down the ground before his miscalculation against Christian. When he dived to claim a return catch from a front edge centimetres from the turf Morgan stood his ground, resulting in an angry, finger-pointing confrontation involving Clarke and Jos Buttler.
Umpires Simon Fry and Ranmore Martinesz moved between the pair to end the argument, after which time Morgan was given out upon consultation of replays to confirm Christian's catch. In the opening match of the series Warner had walked for a low catch behind by Buttler, only to be recalled when the third umpire Kumar Dharmasena judged the ball to have bounced.
While Tim Bresnan lifted the total at the finish, helping himself to a pair of sixes in Christian's final over, 243 looked inadequate. Like so much that England have produced on this tour, it would prove to be nowhere near enough.