Batting coach Graham Gooch concedes England face an uphill battle in their attempts to avoid a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
The tourists, responding to Australia’s 326 on a tricky surface, were dismissed for just 155 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Chris Rogers’ 73 not out subsequently led the hosts to 140 for four as England closed 311 runs behind on day two.
“I think 326 was way above a par score,” said Gooch. “I think it is very generous to say it is just a difficult position.
“It is going to be very tough from here on in because it is not the flattest of pitches. We can't just give up, we have to keep fighting. This is not the flattest of pitches though.
“I thought 250 was a good score on this - 326 is a lot, and then we're 25 for five it is very difficult to come back from there.
"Australia are in a very strong position. You've got to go in there, play your best cricket and believe. That is all we can do."
Frustratingly for Gooch, today represented a microcosm of what has been a difficult tour so far.
He told ecb.co.uk: "I think we have to be honest with ourselves; our performances have not been up to the standard that is necessary.
"We have not competed with Australia or showed the skills that we have in the past. We cannot feel sorry for ourselves; we've got to look at ourselves and look to make improvements."
The one bright note today was again provided by Ben Stokes.
England’s only centurion in the rubber following his stunning 120 at Perth, he claimed 6-99 on day one before producing a brave 47 amid wickets tumbling.
Gooch said: "There was an opportunity for a young player to come in and show what he could do; he has been a breath of fresh air with that bat and ball.
"Today was no different and I hope he builds on what he has shown so far because he has been a light at the end of the tunnel in some pretty average performances.
"Everyone has to believe in themselves as a young player. You can see he has plenty of talent, and he believes in that, and has a good fighting attitude.
"You saw that at Perth with the bat. I was impressed with the way he compiled his innings at Perth; it wasn't all just about shots.
"It was not a century that was scored; it was made. His decision-making and shot selection were excellent. He's left the ball well and played his shots. He's looked like a Test match player.