Alyssa Healy has rejected suggestions Australia's international dominance is starting to wane, insisting there has never been as wide a gap between her side and its challengers as is made out.
South Africa scored their first defeat of the reigning Twenty20 and ODI World Cup champions in the second T20I of the current multi-format series, and followed with an ODI win on Wednesday.
The Proteas' 84-run triumph at North Sydney Oval marked the fourth time Australia had lost an ODI since building a 26-game winning streak between March 2018 and September 2021.
With her side now vying to clinch a fairytale series victory in Saturday's third ODI, Proteas veteran Marizanne Kapp declared this week Australia's foes had been gaining on them in recent times.
But Australian captain Healy took issue with the premise of such comments, particularly in relation to T20 cricket.
"I still don't believe in the gap. I still don't believe it exists," she said.
"Yes, we've got World Cup trophies in the cabinet and yes, we've won a lot of cricket but I still think teams are a lot closer than what everybody thinks they are.
"I think the one-day format in particular is one that we've been very good at, and that's one that we seem to have created some sort of gap in, but I think the T20 format has been a lot closer than what everyone suggests."
Healy has played 267 matches for Australia since debuting as a teenager in 2010, and has featured in home series losses to New Zealand, India and England.
"There was a period of time where cricket was really challenging for this group," Healy said.
"We've had a lot of success over the last five or six years, yes, but there's been plenty of times within that that this group has been challenged.
"It doesn't feel unusual (to lose to South Africa) and I feel like by me saying that, it would disrespect South Africa a little bit."
Ash Gardner looks to have escaped serious injury after tightness in the allrounder's right hamstring forced her out of the field on Wednesday night.
She later returned to bat but could be rested for Saturday's ODI in preparation for next week's Test match in Perth. Gardner has recently been a strong performer in the longest format.
"I'm not a medico but from all reports, she's been cleared of any significant hamstring injury," Healy said.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the Proteas have their eyes set on clinching the ODI series this Saturday to square the ledger heading into next week's Test.
If South Africa were to claim another upset ODI win, the WACA Test would determine the overall winner of the multi-format series.
"(The job) is definitely not done," said fast-bowler Eliz-Mari Marx.
"There's one game to play and I think there's all to play for."