England must defy history to retain the Ashes but Joe Root sees cause for optimism in their handling of Steve Smith.
Billed as their side's most important players, the two skippers have played defining roles throughout the series.
Smith's runs - and Root's lack of them - ensured victory for Australia in Brisbane but the biggest influence in Adelaide was their captain's calls.
Root's decision to bowl after winning the toss backfired when Australia racked up 8-442 declared in their first innings and had England bowled out for 227 in response.
Smith then came under fire for opting not to enforce the follow-on - a decision that blew up in his face when England got within 178 runs of victory at stumps on day four.
Australia went on to claim a 120-run victory that has them poised to seize back the urn with a 2-0 lead in the five-Test series.
Smith, who posted scores of 40 and six, laughed off suggestions England's bowlers had got the better of him with their barrage of calculated sledging at the crease.
But Root said there was evidence to suggest England could curtail the influence of Australia's best batsman.
"I think we have obviously got a few different plans that seemed to work quite nicely here but every game is different," he said.
"He is a good player. He will come back, I'm sure, with some sort of reply.
"It's nice to know that we have a number of different guys to make him work very hard for his runs and get him out so yeah, it is promising in a way."
Root came close to dragging England back into the contest with a spirited 67 in their second innings.
But having converted just 13 of his 47 Test fifties into centuries, he is eager to go one step better.
"You set yourself every time you go out to bat to go massive and get big hundreds," he said.
"I know I'm a good player, I know I'm going to score runs out here, it's just keep believing that and every time you go out there, having that same mentality of going big."