Australia were outplayed by England in all facets of the game to lose the Ashes series 3-1 but selectors should resist the temptation to tear apart a "fantastic" group of players, stand-in skipper Michael Clarke said on Friday.
Clarke had been handed the unenviable task of leading a demoralised Australia into the final test in Sydney, and his debut as captain ended with a crushing innings and 83-run defeat.
"It's been a tough couple of months to be honest, we've been outplayed in all facets of the game," a dejected Clarke said after the fifth and final test.
"I think England have shown us what execution and discipline does with the ball and they've managed to go and make some big scores with the bat as well.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed like all the boys. We didn't perform as well as we'd have liked."
The 29-year-old was handed the captaincy after Ricky Ponting had been ruled out with a broken finger after defeat in Melbourne.
Like Ponting, Clarke failed to inspire his team with the bat and his second innings dismissal on 41 after a defiant stand with Usman Khawaja hastened Australia's third innings defeat in the series, a record low for the team.
Clarke enjoyed walking out as captain wearing Australia's baggy green cap but gave little suggestion he was eager to stay at the helm as the team face a period of soul-searching.
"I think individually, especially being the vice captain, I need to stand up and start scoring some more runs," said Clarke, who managed only one half-century in the series.
Australia's entire cricket establishment is sure to be on notice after the series loss but Clarke defended his team, whose mix of raw youth and established players failed spectacularly to gel in the final two tests.
"We've got a great bunch of guys, we've got a fantastic group of guys with a lot of talent, we just haven't been able to show how good we are," he said, adding that it was not the time to make wholesale changes.
"I think we need to stay strong together, I think we do need to stick together.
"We've played some good cricket, but very inconsistent and I think we need to continue to try and get better every day we get out of bed. We're looking to improve as players and as a team."