PAUL COLLINGWOOD has insisted England's Ashes series defeat should not be blamed on the players losing focus following their 2005 victory celebrations in London.
England's successive defeats at Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to hand back the Ashes to Australia after only 463 days in their possession has sparked numerous inquests.
Coach Duncan Fletcher has been blamed, as has the captaincy of Andrew Flintoff, bad selection choices and poor preparation for the series.
But the reason blamed most for the defeat has been the theory England's successful squad of 2005, nine of which took the field for the first two Tests of this series, had lost their focus and hunger since beating Australia and being given MBEs.
Collingwood, though, insists the players' desire has not dropped.
"Everyone wanted to enjoy the celebrations and winning the Ashes for the first time in a while, it was always going to happen," stressed Collingwood. "But as cricketers we were mentally focused enough to realise the job in hand - I don't think we went overboard.
"When you get beaten, when you get hit hard like Australia did in 2005 you regroup as a team and really refocus and take your game to the next level, more mentally than anything else.
"I'm sure they have done that and that's why they've been difficult to beat. They've always had world class players anyway and they've certainly gone to that extra level - and we need to do that.
"Coming to Australia was always going to be difficult, but they've been a tough cookie to crack and hopefully we can take stock from what we've experienced during these last three games and go forward from here."
Collingwood is aware of criticism being aimed at the tourists.
But he stressed England are determined to bounce back during the Tests at Melbourne and Sydney.
"I think we're professional enough to take the stick," he said. "If we deserve the stick then we'll have to take it. We're confident enough to hopefully get something out of these last two games and if we do that we can take a couple of positives.
"Some might say we deserve the stick, but we go out there and try our hardest. We prepared well, we've done everything in our powers to go out there and win."