The Australian media fretted on Monday that the nation's cricketers are on the verge of going 2-0 down in the Ashes series against England with some pundits doubtful of the tourists' state of mind.
The Australians were 88 for two in their second innings at stumps in the third Edgbaston Test and needing a further 25 runs on Monday's final day to make England, 1-0 up in the five-Test series, bat again.
The mood is darkening in the Australian press after Ricky Ponting's team was again outplayed after their defeat at Lord's and after failing to break a stubborn last-wicket partnership to snare victory in the opening Cardiff Test.
"Australia need to stop contemplating their navels," Peter Roebuck said in The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Touring reporters have become frustrated at the way the team has gone to ground. It is a bad sign.
"This circling of wagons indicates a fragile state of mind. That needs to change. Better to look defeat in the eye and realise it is not such a terrible thing."
The press pinpointed Graeme Swann's ripping off-break to bowl Australian captain Ricky Ponting for five as setting the scene for a fascinating finish to the third Test.
"The wickets of the Australian captain and the senior opener Simon Katich allowed England to dream of conjuring a fifth-day victory," The Herald's Chloe Saltau said.
"Australia is desperately trying to avoid going 2-0 down in an Ashes series for the first time since 1986."
The newspaper said much will depend on whether rookie opener Shane Watson (34 not out) and out-of-form Mike Hussey (18 not out) can help Australia bat out the final day, so their team can head to the fourth Test at Headingley with the series still only delicately poised in England's favour.
The Australian's Malcolm Conn wondered whether the pressure of leading an inexperienced team was weighing heavily on Ponting.
"It was his second poor Test after a majestic 150 in Cardiff, leaving the nagging feeling that he carries so much with this inexperienced team that maybe, just maybe, it is starting to wear the 34-year-old down," Conn said.
The Australian press praised the big-hitting innings of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, whose swaggering 74 from 79 balls helped position England for a shot at victory.
"Flintoff set them alight. The harder and further he hit the ball the louder the full house at Edgbaston cheered, roared and sang 'Super Freddy Flintoff'," Conn said.
The Daily Telegraph's Robert Craddock said Australia badly needed the steadying influence of experienced seamer Stuart Clark in the bowling lineup.
"Australia's horrendous middle session (Sunday) when they were carved up at around five runs an over by England's lower order proved again why Stuart Clark should have been in this side. Australia needs his pressure and his penetration," he said.
Former Test spinner Greg Matthews said Australia needed to find someone who could knock over the England tail-end.
"You would have thought Australia's tail was stronger, but England's is becoming a real thorn in the side," Matthews said on SBS TV.