James Anderson insists England are determined to bounce back from the disappointment of losing their place at the top of the ICC Test rankings.
South Africa's series triumph over Andrew Strauss' side, sealed with a 51-run victory at Lord's on Monday, means they are now the No.1 side in the world.
At one stage it appeared they could be set to escape to victory in the final Test against the Proteas, but half-centuries from Jonathan Trott, Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior weren't enough to see them reach a target of 346.
England have now won just one of their last four series in the longest form of the game, a disappointing run after they had taken over at the summit by sweeping India on home soil last summer.
"Obviously it's disappointing to lose the series," Anderson told Sky Sports.
"It was a great finish to the game. We always kept believing and thought we had a chance at the end, especially when Matt Prior and Graeme Swann were going so well.
"Unfortunately we fell a little bit short, as we did all series to be honest.
"I thought we were outplayed for most of the series - the better team won. It was a three-match series and we lost 2-0. Those are the bare facts."
Anderson acknowledged it had been a disappointing year in the longest form of the game, particularly after England had played so well in 2011.
"We played so well chasing that No.1 spot, but once we got there we didn't get it quite right as a team," he added.
"Now we are back to chasing again. We did that so well previously, so hopefully we can now start improving again and start picking up from where we left off last year.
"This has been a disappointing year for us - we haven't played anywhere near our capabilities.
"We've got to try and get back to winning ways. We've not played anywhere near the standard we've set ourselves, and we need to put that right before we go to India (this winter)."
Whether Kevin Pietersen will be part of that touring party to India remains to be seen, with the batsman left out of England's squads for both the one-day series against South Africa and the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka.
National selector Geoff Miller said when announcing the squads that Pietersen's future involvement with England was "still being determined".
"From a players' point of view, we have just got to sit back and hope there is some sort of closure on this," Lancashire seamer Anderson said.
"All parties need to get a result at the end of the day. They've got to try and sort the issues out and whatever result comes at the end of it, the players will go along with it.
"Obviously you need everyone pulling in the same direction. I'm sure the ECB, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower will be looking out for the best needs of the England team in the future.
"We will respect whatever decision they come to.
"We are lucky that we've got some strong characters in the dressing room. We've been through some tough times before and we know you've got to stick together during them.
"It's no different now. We know that we've been beaten convincingly by South Africa in this Test series and we know we've got to stick together if we are to bounce back."
What is the key reason for England's series defeat to South Africa?
The KP saga
Better South Africa team