ENGLAND fell to a 218-run defeat against Australia in the second Ashes test in Adelaide, leaving them 2-0 down with three matches to play.
Matt Prior brought an unexpected, if brief, counter-attack to bear with his first half-century for almost nine months but could not stop Australia taking the last four wickets in just under an hour of the final morning.
Prior (69) lost his overnight partner Stuart Broad almost immediately to Peter Siddle (four for 57) on the final day, but did not go quietly himself as England nonetheless descended to 312 all out.
In notional pursuit of a world-record 531 to win, it seemed all along only a matter of time before the tourists faltered terminally.
They did so in an unexpected fashion, however, going down all guns blazing in a counter-attacking mode that baffled many.
Broad fell to the fifth ball of a dank day.
He hooked the fourth from Siddle for six, and then tried to repeat the dose but was caught on the boundary by Nathan Lyon.
It was not an obvious method of trying to save this match - with the threat of rain, after a slightly-delayed start, also receding to aid the highly unlikely escape act.
Prior also judged that aggression was in order, from a near hopeless position, and it was at least heartening for England when he reached his first 50 in 17 innings.
The wicketkeeper-batsman has been in a miserable run of form since his match and series-saving, unbeaten century against New Zealand in Auckland at the end of March.
He ended the sequence in style here, gradually regaining his trademark fluent strokeplay and completing an 88-ball half-century with a pull off Siddle for his ninth four.
Prior snuffed out the threat of Mitchell Johnson, only for the left-armer to be replaced by Ryan Harris - who struck in his first over.
Graeme Swann could only fence an edge high to second slip, and then Prior himself was ninth out, going for one shot too many against Siddle and pulling straight to deep square-leg - for his 10th dismissal in Tests to the same bowler.
The foregone conclusion was confirmed when number 11 Monty Panesar hit Harris straight into the hands of cover.
But this was a match lost by England with their first-innings batting, when they were - as in the first Test in Brisbane - unable to handle the pace of Johnson.
They must therefore try to overturn 77 years of history, starting in Perth on Friday, as the first team to win the Ashes from 2-0 down since Australia did so in 1936/37.