Michael Clarke has conceded that his men appear not to have learnt from their crushing 4-0 defeat in India last year after losing 2-0 to Pakistan in the UAE. Following Pakistan's victory in the first Test in Dubai, Clarke played down the result and comparisons to the Indian tour of 2013, but after the 356-run thrashing in Abu Dhabi, he raised the Indian series unprompted, and said Australia still had much to learn about playing on slow pitches.
The result means Australia have now won only one of their past 15 Tests in Asia - against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2011 - and have lost 10 in the same period, which started with their 2008 tour of India. Last year in India the Australians managed only one century for the series, scored by Clarke on the opening day of the first Test, and similarly in the UAE David Warner's first-day ton in Dubai was Australia's only one of the series.
Steven Smith fell just short of joining him on the final day when he was lbw shortly after lunch for 97, one of 12 wickets claimed in the series by legspinner Yasir Shah. The left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar picked up 14 wickets and between them they collected more than all of Australia's bowlers combined. Throw in 11 dropped catches and Australia were outperformed in every way.
"We have got to obviously talk about what's just happened," Clarke said after the loss. "We were hopeful that we learnt some lessons from our trip to India but it doesn't look that way. Your goal has to be to try and become better. I say that regularly, but our performances here weren't any better than they were in India.
"There might have been some individual positives come out of the series. Mitchell Marsh was certainly a stand-out for me, I know he didn't take a wicket but he was unlucky on a number of occasions and I thought for him to come in and bat the way he batted was a really pleasing sign for us. Davey Warner is still in good form which is a positive, Steve Smith played really well today.
"There's 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. We need to try and look to improve the next time we play in the subcontinent. There's no doubt the players will be happy to go home and play in conditions we are accustomed to."
The win catapulted Pakistan from sixth up to third on the ICC's Test rankings, while Australia remained in second position. However, the gap between Clarke's men and the No.1 South Africa has widened. It is no coincidence that South Africa are a strong team on the road as well as at home; they have not been beaten in an away series since visiting Sri Lanka in 2006, and it is nearly a decade since anyone but Australia have beaten them at home.
"The best teams win away from home consistently," Clarke said. "It shows we have a lot of work to do. It shows, like a lot of countries around the world, we have success at home consistently. Let's hope that continues through the summer, that's going to be a tough series against India ... It's a fair indication of where we sit as a team. We're a lot more comfortable playing in our own backyard and we need to continue to work hard to have success away from home."
A big part of Australia's failure in the UAE was down to the inability of their bowlers to make regular breakthroughs, which led to this being easily Australia's worst collective bowling series in Test history. Pakistan handled Australia's spinners with ease; Nathan Lyon finished the tour with three Test wickets at 140.66, Steve O'Keefe claimed four at 54.75 from his only game, Smith collected three at 48.33 and Glenn Maxwell went wicketless.
"I'm not going to sit here and blame one department," Clarke said. "There's no doubt the batting has been extremely poor this series and that's led by myself. My batting is unacceptable as captain and leader of this team. That hasn't helped our bowlers one bit. I think we dropped 11 catches this series, that hasn't helped the bowlers one bit. I'm not going to sit here and blame any area, I think bat, ball and in the field we've been outplayed by a really good Pakistan team."
The chasm between the sides in these conditions meant Clarke has become the first Australian captain to lose a Test series to Pakistan since 1994, when Mark Taylor began his reign as Allan Border's successor by scoring a pair and leading the side to defeat in the first Test in Karachi, and lost the series 1-0.
Clarke has had a similarly wretched tour personally and finished the series with only 57 runs from his four innings, continuing a disappointing 2014 that so far is his worst calendar year since 2005. He has managed only 294 runs at 29.40 in his six Tests so far this year; in 2005 he played 12 Tests for 476 runs at 28.00.
"I am probably most angry with myself, most disappointed with my personal performance," he said. "I have always prided myself on leading by example and in the series that we have lost since I have been captain I have been able at least to stand up and lead from the front, where in this series I haven't done that. I don't have any excuse or reason for it. I feel like I have been working as hard as I can on my game.
"I don't have any excuse for underperforming and I will be judged like any other player that's underperformed. That's what burns me at the most at this time - there's no doubt I am disappointed we lost the series 2-0 but when you are captain you take things personally and when you don't perform that makes it even harder."