Sam Warburton says Australia cemented their status as favourites to beat Wales at the 2015 World Cup with their ninth successive win over his team.
The nations clash in a tournament pool that also includes hosts England.
"People can rightly call them favourites," said the Wales captain and flanker.
Warburton felt Wales's failure to "manage" the absence of sin-binned fly-half Dan Biggar was a major factor in their 30-26 defeat.
Biggar's yellow card came late in the first half and his Australian counterpart, Quade Cooper followed Biggar into the sin bin in the 76th minute, but Wales could not make the advantage pay.
Warburton says he and his team-mates did not cope adequately with Biggar being missing from the 35th to 45th minutes after he illegally halted a Wallabies move on the home line.
"There's a period with the sin-bin where we didn't keep the ball as tight as we should have and lost a bit of possession there," said Warburton.
"So that's not Dan's fault at all... Dan saved a try."
Fans were treated to a pulsating encounter that ended in familiar defeat for Wales.
After losing to South Africa in their opening November Test, Warburton said he their remaining major southern hemisphere opponents.
But after a comfortable win over Argentina and dour triumph against Tonga, Wales again found the Wallabies superior.
"You don't lose that many times by being unlucky," said the Cardiff Blues player.
"There's obviously some common denominator there and Australia are slightly a better side.
"It's extremely close, but they're a tiny bit in front of us at the moment and we've just got to keep working hard until we can get a win against these sides."
Warburton judged Australia to have had an edge in the opening period, but said Wales underlined their own qualities after the break.
"They played very well in the first half, did well at the breakdown and were very clinical in attack," said the man who led the 2013 British and Irish Lions to their 2-1 Test series triumph down under.
"It was a brutal Test match. It was exactly what we thought it was going to be. I've always found them one of the most difficult teams to play against.
"In defence it feels like it's 100 miles per hour and we had to work really hard to slow their ball down, and the second half went much better for us.
"It was a great Test match to be involved in [but] it's not what we wanted. Three wins out of four was the target and we've fallen short.
"We have to look forward now to the Six Nations campaign but we're still desperately looking for that win against the southern hemisphere sides."