London: Australia captain Michael Clarke was left ruing his side's mediocre top batting after they went down by a massive 347 runs to arch-rivals England in the second Test at Lord's on Sunday.
Defeat, with more than a day to spare, left Australia 2-0 down in the five-match series and with their hopes of regaining the Ashes urn from England hanging by a thread.
It also meant that, following their 4-0 series loss in India earlier this year, Australia had lost six Tests in a row for the first time since 1984. (Australia bemoans 'humbling' defeat)
This was also Australia's second worst runs defeat in Ashes history and the worst in England.
Their only bigger runs loss was 675 at the Exhibition Ground in Brisbane in 1928 when Don Bradman, cricket's greatest batsman, made 18 and one on his Australia debut and was dropped for the next Test.
It was Bradman who inspired Australia's fight back from 2-0 down to a 3-2 series win in the 1936/37 Ashes but such a reversal this series seems highly unlikely given the parlous state of Australia's top-order batting.
Australia, set a mammoth 583 to win -- the highest fourth innings winning score in Test history is West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia at St John's in 2002/03 -- were eventually bowled out for 235.
But, as was the case in both their innings in England's 14-run first Test win at Trent Bridge, Australia's total on Sunday owed much to tailend resistance after they'd collapsed to 162 for eight.
The damage in this match was done by Australia's woeful first innings 128 in reply to England's 361, which featured Ian Bell's 109.
Man-of-the-match Joe Root rubbed salt into the wound when the 22-year-old opener, in only his eighth Test, gave a textbook demonstration of Test match batting by making 180 to put England in an impregnable position.
For all that new Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who replaced the sacked Mickey Arthur shortly before the Ashes, has been warmly welcomed, this series is proving that dressing-room harmony is no substitute for runs.
"Certainly not the performance we were after," said star batsman Clarke, who made 51 on Sunday before he was caught at leg slip by England captain Alastair Cook off part-time off-spinner Root.
Australia now have a three-day game against Sussex starting Friday in which to regroup before the third Test at Manchester's Old Trafford gets underway on August 1.
"It's going to be hard but I'd be silly to go into Manchester expecting to lose, we'll do everything in our power to improve our game but England outperformed us once again in this Test match," Clarke said.
"Our first innings with the bat really let us down, it was not acceptable.
"We're putting extra pressure and expectation on our bowlers, our top seven has experience but once we lose one wicket we're losing two or three in quick succession."
Whereas the weight of history was a burden for Australia on the back of this result, for England, who hope to have Kevin Pietersen fit for the third Test after he was off the field Sunday with a calf strain, it was a joy.
Victory meant England were 2-0 up in the Ashes for the first time since their triumphant 1986/87 tour of Australia.
Not since 1978/79, when facing an Australia team weakened by defections to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, had England won the first two Tests of an Ashes series.
And this victory, combined with their innings wins at Melbourne and Sydney on their most recent tour of Australia in 2010/11, meant England had won four successive Ashes Tests for the first time since 1928.
"We've played some good cricket over the last couple of weeks but we've also had to scrap hard after being 30 for three in both of our innings in this match," said England captain Alastair Cook, who was delighted by Root's "great knock under pressure".
Meanwhile Swann, who had match figures of nine for 122, said: "It's the first time in my 17 years of first-class cricket that extra half hour has got a wicket...We're so glad there's a week off now."