Captains ... Michael Clarke of Australia and Mahela Jaywardena of Sri Lanka. Photo: Getty Images
Michael Clarke and Mahela Jayawardene are leading teams in transitional phases striving to rediscover glories of yesteryear but relying on too much from too few.
While Jayawardene prepares for his last series at the helm for Sri Lanka, Clarke is imploring his developing side to follow his lead so Australia's on-field fortunes no longer rely on the performances of their captain.
It was no coincidence Australia produced clearly their worst display in the series-decider against South Africa - the only Test where Clarke failed to set the scene with a herculean century.
And by no means was Perth an isolated incident. Since taking over as captain in the final Test of the 2010-11 Ashes series, Clarke has averaged 81 when Australia have won or drawn, as opposed to just 33.62 in their four defeats. Take out his 151 in the Johannesburg disaster last year and that figure tumbles below 17.
Of the nine victories he has presided over, only three have come in matches where he failed to pass 50, which suggests Australia is a fish that rots from the head.
Ricky Ponting's departure, and with it 168 matches of experience, has placed further responsibility on Clarke's shoulders though it could be argued the former captain's lean run was also part of the problem.
Ponting's permanent absence, however, has paved the way for Australia's new-look top three and Shane Watson, making his debut appearance at No.4, to stamp their own mark on the team.
Clarke has implored the unlikely quartet to ''back themselves and play their way''.
''The strength and the advantage that we have in our top four now is that all four have opened the batting for Australia, so against the new ball they'll be very well suited,'' Clarke said.
''If you look at our top three, they are all very different players, they all have great strengths and have all scored a hundred for Australia.
''There is plenty of talent there, it is about owning your position, making the most of it, grabbing hold of this opportunity with both hands - and they have the chance to build a long, successful career.
''All of our top four have seen success at this level, they are good enough to be here and now it's about grabbing hold of that chance.''
Failure to do so, as Rob Quiney has found out, has unpalatable consequences, particularly with the Australian team management reluctant to move Clarke up the order.
''I thought long and hard about it, but at this stage I guess Mickey Arthur and myself feel that how the order is for this Test match … is our best line-up to have success in this Test match and hopefully for the series,'' said Clarke, who averages less than 21 at No.4.
''I always as a kid wanted to bat No.4 for Australia. I guess the older you get and the wiser you get, you work out and realise that the number is irrelevant where you bat.
''It's about having success and helping the team win.''
Jayawardene has decided Sri Lanka's best interests will be served by him relinquishing the captaincy at the end of the tour.
The 35-year-old said he would step aside after the Test and ODI series here to give his successor, likely to be all-rounder Angelo Mathews, a chance to adjust to the role with senior players such as himself and former skipper Kumar Sangakkara still playing.
Sri Lanka, finalists at the past two World Cups, was in disarray when Jayawardene agreed at the start of the year to take over the reins for 12 months.
The board was in financial troubles which led to it failing to make player payments, the team had gone through three coaches in the space of a few months and former captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was struggling with the top job.
''It [the captaincy] has helped me a lot but it drains as well,'' Jayawardene said.
''There are more things to being a captain than playing cricket. When you're a captain you tend to take your work home and start thinking about the decisions you need to make.
''Where I am right now, at 35, I need to enjoy my cricket and see where I am and contribute as a player and be fresh and energetic in doing that, so I need that space.''