Head Coach Trevor Bayliss blamed a lack of experience after England failed to win the one-day international series against South Africa despite holding a 2-0 lead.
AB de Villiers completed South Africa's comeback with a century in the fifth and final match in Cape Town as the Proteas chased down a below-par 236 all out with five wickets in hand.
It was the type of batting performance that has elevated De Villiers to the top of the world's batting rankings and one which Bayliss believes his young players would do well to learn from as they look to make their own mark on the international stage.
"We've certainly got some work to do there, and that will come with experience," Bayliss said.
"At some point, that experience has got to pay dividends. I hope playing against someone like De Villiers and the way he went about the innings today is something we can learn from and that will rub off.
"I think to win series, we've got to take a leaf out of De Villiers' book, the way he paced his innings.
"The best batter in the series did his job today, and showed everyone how to do it.
"I think the consistency of performance will come with experience, but sooner or later guys have to be accountable."
Alex Hales revealed his growing stature on the international stage with a second ODI century - after passing 50 in the previous four games - but he was afforded too little help as England were bowled out with five overs unused.
Reece Topley raised hopes when he claimed three quick wickets with the ball but that was snuffed out by a century stand between De Villiers and Hashim Amla.
"I don't think we did enough - we were outplayed here today," captain Eoin Morgan said.
"We did have chances in previous games to wrap up the series, but we weren't good enough.
"The opportunities would have been executed if we had more experience in the side, but we're growing and learning. We pushed them so hard, even though we under-performed.
"We started with the ball exceptionally well, but it just wasn't enough."
Bayliss also pointed to his side's fielding as a point of difference in a series that was ultimately decided by fine margins.
"I thought the batting and bowling was fairly even. They are quite simply a better fielding team than us at the moment and we've got to keep working at that," Bayliss said.
"We've got a number of guys who are not the quickest in the field but I think it's an attitude thing.
"I just feel at times that some of us don't necessarily want the ball to come anywhere near us. That's something we're working on, and will continue to work on."
De Villiers praised the performance of Morgan's men after coming so close to becoming the first England team to claim a Test-ODI series double on the same tour.
"They're a fantastic one-day team," he said.
"To come back from rock-bottom, in the 2015 World Cup, to where they are now - the talent was always there, but mentally they had to go through a few obstacles.
"Morgs' played a big role in that. He's a very positive leader - and he's the right captain for England.
"They will be a team to deal with over the next few years. In the 2017 Champions Trophy, 2019 World Cup, they'll be around - there's no doubt about that."