SKIPPER Michael Clarke admitted his Australian side was outplayed after losing the third and final Test to South Africa at the WACA inside four days.
It might have taken three Tests to do so but South Africa has finally proved why it is the No.1 team in the world after a comprehensive defeat by 309 runs after the Australians finished their second innings on 322 late on day four.
It was supposed to be a day of celebration with the crowd in full voice as Ricky Ponting signed off from Test cricket in style.
But the only ones celebrating were the Proteas after holding on to the No.1 Test spot with a day to spare.
Clarke said after the defeat that the Proteas were just too good as they took the series 1-0.
"I was disappointed with the result," he said.
"We got outplayed and credit has to go to South Africa.
"I thought they took some momentum after hanging on in the last Test to get a draw in Adelaide.
"I though we fought really hard in the first two Tests but they were just too good for us here in Perth."
The warning signs were there as early as the first over of the day for Australia when David Warner edged to Graeme Smith off the bowling of Vernon Philander.
That brought Ponting to the crease but he did not last long as the Proteas looked to put their foot on the throat of the Aussie batsmen.
Clarke signalled his intentions with consecutive boundaries off Robin Peterson off the last two balls before lunch and it appeared as if the Australians would mount a counter-attack.
Cowan (53) and skipper Clarke (44) put together a useful partnership, but once the pair fell and Mike Hussey also followed them into the dressing room, the inevitable defeat seemed to be not far away.
Some brutal late hitting from Mitchell Starc who finished on 68 not out and Nathan Lyon (27) gave the small crowd some late entertainment on an otherwise miserable day for the Australians.
The pair put on 87 for the 10th wicket but it was little more than consolation.
Cowan's was the first wicket to fall in the afternoon session as he became Dale Steyn's first victim of the innings and Clarke and Hussey looked relatively untroubled in putting on 58 runs for the fifth wicket.
Then the skipper was stumped attempting a wild charge down the pitch at Peterson, a shot which summed up the Australians' day.
Hussey (26) followed soon after, edging Steyn to AB de Villiers behind the stumps and Matthew Wade failed to reproduce his first innings' heroics as he chipped Peterson straight to Smith at short mid-wicket.
John Hastings and Mitchell Johnson could not hang around too long but then came the Aussies' last stand before Lyon edged to Steyn who waqs caught by Smith at slip.
The South African captain snaffled five catches in the innings - a record for a Proteas skipper.