Root watched his team make a game attempt at snatching a draw in the day/night second Test in Adelaide, with Jos Buttler’s determination taking a largely one-sided contest into a final session before standing on his own stumps to usher in a 275-run defeat.
But that backs-to-the-wall effort was scant mitigation for some familiar shortcomings that have seen England outclassed in each of the first two games.
Whispers of another whitewash to follow 2006/07 and 2013/14 are already growing in volume Down Under but although that is a fate Root does not expect, he insists change must come quickly.
He was keen to address the bowling and struggled to conceal his frustration at the collective failure to pursue the fuller lengths which have so far proved most effective in these conditions.
Having diagnosed a similar flaw on the same trip four years, it is an appeal Root is tiring of.
“First of all we need to learn and learn fast. We can’t make the same mistakes that we have made so far,” he said. “We’ve got three massive games now, with the Ashes on the line. If that’s not motivation enough, I don’t know what is.
“The disappointing thing about this week is that we made the same mistakes as last week in Brisbane. We just can’t afford to do that. That’s the frustration.
“In the first innings in particular, we were a little bit short with the ball. We need to be a little bit braver, get the ball up there and accept we’re going to be driven.
“You’re looking at half a metre at times. If you look at how many times we beat the bat, it can be frustrating.”
It is a concern to hear Root querying the methods of a seam attack fronted by the two most prolific bowlers in England’s history, with James Anderson boasting 167 caps and Stuart Broad winning his 150th here.
But while the gauntlet has been laid down to them, or whoever gets the nod for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, Root did not excuse himself or the rest of the batting group in his post mortem.
Australia can lay claim to each of the top five individual scores of the series, including the only two centuries. Root and Dawid Malan have both made two half-centuries apiece without converting and there is a conspicuous lack of support elsewhere.
“With the bat, we have got the ability. I don’t think that Australia are that much better in these conditions as the scoreline suggests,” he said. “I’m convinced we’ve got what we need to win Test matches over here but we’re not going to if we keep missing chances and don’t give ourselves an opportunity to get into the Test match with the bat.
“We’ve got to find ways of building those partnerships, getting in, making big contributions.
“That’s something we’ll have to do very well at Melbourne. I was absolutely gutted to get out last night. I should have been able to turn up today, put the pads on and lead by example, so I’m bitterly disappointed in myself.”
Root commended Buttler for his 207-ball blockade, which yielded only 26 runs but the right kind of fighting spirit before it ended in unusual fashion as he stepped back into his stumps.
It was the end of a rollercoaster week that has also seen him dismissed for a first-innings duck, take a couple of athletic catches and drop another three chances with the gloves.
“Everyone is absolutely devastated for him, having had that mindset and that strength of character in what has been quite a difficult week for him,” said Root. “I’m very proud of the way the guys fought today. The attitude and the desire, that’s how we need to go about a whole match.
“But we can’t just leave it to the last day to try and pull off an enormous feat like we had to do today.”