Captain Alastair Cook has his work cut out to turn England around for the next Ashes, says Andrew Strauss.
Cook's side - already 2-0 down in the series - appears on the brink of handing back the urn after closing day three of the third Test 369 runs behind Australia, who reached 235-3 in their second innings after bowling the tourists out for 251 in their first.
The opener led England to a 3-0 victory in his first Ashes series as captain this summer but although Cook marked his 100th Test with a battling 72 in Perth, his side's fortunes continue to nose-dive in Australia.
"It's your toughest time as a captain when things are going wrong on the pitch," said Strauss, who led England to Ashes victories at home in 2009 and in Australia in 2010/11.
"Cook battled really hard with the bat - I think he showed a lot of resolve. He ground it out, he didn't look in great nick. But as a captain he's got so many questions going around in his head at the moment.
"This side looked so settled a couple of matches ago - they'd won in India for the first time in 20-odd years, they'd won in England in his first Ashes series as England captain - but now it looks as if the wheels have really come off.
"There are questions to answer. Are the senior players performing? Do you need to make changes to the side? Cook has got to think of all the answers to those questions. So it's a tough time for him. He's still relatively inexperienced as a captain and it's going to take a lot of drive on his part to turn things around for England.
"I think it is too late for this Ashes series but the next Ashes [in 2015] is not that far away - it's only 18 months away now."
England's total of 235 was the latest in a run of disappointing first-innings scores following their 136 in Brisbane and 172 in Adelaide.
Four batsmen - Joe Root (33.50), Ian Bell (32.50) Michael Carberry (31.40) and Alastair Cook (30.80) - are averaging over 30 but no player has made a century and Kevin Pietersen has scored 120 runs at an average of 24.00.
Strauss believes that England are suffering from collective poor form rather than as a result of insufficient preparation for the series.
"I think it really is as simple as a lot of their senior players - guys who they have relied on for a long period of time - all finding themselves out of nick at the same time against a very good bowling attack," said Strauss.
"People will say that they are spineless and gutless and aren't showing enough concentration but they are going through one of those tough patches mentally where everything you do seems to go wrong.
"We saw a lot of soft dismissals from England in the first two Tests so coming to this ground we've seen the likes of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, and even Ian Bell, trying to grind it out and that hasn't worked for them either.
"The Australians are all over them like a rash. They are full of confidence. They feel the lack of confidence in the England ranks and they are taking full advantage of that at the moment."
Reflecting on the day as a whole, he added: "It was a crucial day for England - it was one they had to win if they were to have any chance of getting back into this Ashes series and they fluffed their lines quite spectacularly.
"The batsmen again were the ones to blame against a really potent Australian bowling line-up with Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle backing up Mitchell Johnson brilliantly.
"England simply had no answer. I think they've been 'mentally disintegrated' over the course of three Test matches. The Australian bowlers were too much for England on a quick wicket here in Perth.
"It's hard to see England getting anything out of this game and with that, the Ashes is gone."
Watch highlights of day three throughout the day on Sky Sports 2. The Ashes Verdict returns at 9pm, on Sky Sports 3 and our live coverage of day four begins at 2.25am on Sky Sports 2.