Almost 25 years ago they were deemed to be the worst team to have left our shores.
Yet a WA bowler led a campaign that not only won back cricket's most coveted trophy but created a new generation for Australia in the grand old game.
Fast forward to November 2013. Michael Clarke's men were given little chance of success against an England team that had pummelled the nation's best in three previous Ashes series.
Step forward another Sandgroper, albeit an adopted son but one who learned from one of the State's greatest, Dennis Lillee and who used the WACA Ground to reproduce his outstanding talent.
If Terry Alderman’s 41 wickets turned the fortunes of the baggy green in 1989, then Mitchell Johnson has put his country on course for another golden era.
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The 32-year-old left-hander not only cut down an England line-up that was once dominant but now weary, he terrorised them into submission.
And while his sheer ferocity at the Gabba, Adelaide Oval and WACA Ground struck fear into his rivals, his mind games struck at their hearts.
England became shot mentally and physically. It was significant that the most spirit in the three Tests of this Ashes series was shown by rookie Ben Stokes with his defiant century in Perth. Stokes hasn’t been around long enough to understand the psychological scars of his teammates. Jonathon Trott, who left the team after the first Test loss, certainly can.
Johnson’s demeanour, and his 23 wickewts at 15.47, also prevented England from responding to his on and off-field taunts.
An unflappable character he was more than willing to react to any attempt by the English to reply. He stood firm at the crease, ignoring the Old Dart’s attempts to return fire, with his innings of 64 and 39 in Brisbane putting in train Australia’s Ashes ambush. His knock of 39 in Perth was just as significant.
The sword of St George was blunted.
But like 1989 the main act had a wonderful support cast. Merv Hughes, Geoff Lawson and the leg-spin of Trevor Hohns joined Alderman in creating an attack that was greater than the sum of its parts. They were also driven by a clever tactician in coach Bob Simpson.
In the first three Tests of this series, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and the off-spin of Nathan Lyon have complemented Johnson’s raw pace so effectively. And the attacking attitude of new mentor Darren Lehmann ensured Australia consistently wanted to get on the front foot no matter the situation.
From that series three decades ago Australia climbed from the cricket doldrums to become a force for the next 15 years.
Can Michael Clarke’s men create a similar period?
"I’d like to think so," Clarke said moments after the Ashes were returned to his hands.
"But this is a reward for 12 months of hard work. I just hope we can go on with it.
"Our goal is to get back to being the number one team in the world. But we’ve got two more Test matches and we’d love to go five-nil up in the series."
Australian fans, who have feverishly followed the fortunes of their team on television during this series, will be watching intently for what is to come.
The last ride under these circumstances was most enjoyable.
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