Australia skipper Ricky Ponting is confident his side can hold onto their number one ranking in Test cricket, despite losing the series to South Africa in Melbourne.
The Proteas won the second Test with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory at the MCG, Hashim Amla hitting the winning runs to condemn Australia to their first home series defeat in 16 years.
As well as losing their proud home record, the Baggy Greens now stand just one defeat away from relinquishing their 13-year reign as Test cricket's top-ranked nation.
A defeat in the third Test in Sydney to Graeme Smith's side will see South Africa clinch top spot, however Ponting insists his side won't surrender their proud record without a fight.
"At the moment we're still number one, they have to beat us in Sydney to take that mantle from us," he said.
"That's the way that ranking system works but I'm probably sure if you knocked on their door they'll say they're the number one team at the moment.
"We've dominated world cricket for a long period of time. I'm still very positive and very sure with some of the young guys coming on that in a few years' time that we can get back up there and be dominating world cricket again.
"A lot of players in the team aren't accustomed to losing Test matches let alone Test series.
"The gap between our best cricket and our worst cricket has been too big, and we have to make that smaller if we want to win the next Test and if we want to stay in that top group of Test-playing nations."
Ponting also conceded that Australia had been guilty of throwing away commanding positions in both Perth and Melbourne, and that ultimately proved decisive.
"Getting 247 runs in the second innings was nowhere near enough," he said.
"With a 60-run deficit going into our second innings we had another opportunity to post a very big total to turn it into a close game of Test match cricket but it didn't turn out that way.
"What's happened in this series is generally what Australia have done to teams in the past.
"When big moments have come up we've grabbed it with both hands, turned a negative very much into a positive and been able to go on and win games."
Strike bowler Brett Lee also confirmed that he will miss the final Test at the SCG after opting to go under the knife to cure a nagging foot injury.
"It looks as if I will possibly have to have surgery on Saturday," said Lee.
"There is a bit going on at the back of my foot as well so I'm thinking if I'm going to be out for six to eight weeks with a foot injury I may as well get the whole of the ankle fixed.
"There's a bit of a crack in there a bit of loose bone so I though I may as well get it all fixed up and hopefully come back bigger and better."