Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith agreed Mike Hussey's first-innings century was the key to victory in the second Test between Australia and South Africa.
Hussey scored 122 and put on 107 runs for the last wicket with Glenn McGrath as the home side made 355 in Melbourne.
"Hussey and McGrath's partnership on day two has been the defining moment of the Test match," said Ponting.
Smith, whose side dropped Hussey after he hade made 27, admitted the player's hundred "changed the face of the game."
The rueful South African skipper added: "We really had the momentum and he came and took it away from us.
"If we'd taken our opportunities, things could have been really different. Both guys we put down in the first innings went on to make hundreds."
Ponting, who also scored a century in his side's first innings, was quick to heap praise on all-rounder Andrew Symonds after Australia's 184-run win.
Symonds was out first ball in his first knock of the match but bounced back to take 3-50 and then hit 72 off 54 balls to put the home team in a strong position.
"It's great to see Andrew do well," said Ponting. "He's a winner in both forms of the game.
"We should not underestimate what Andrew did with the ball in their first innings.
"He got those three wickets when South Africa were looking pretty good and he turned the game.
"Then his knock allowed us to get out there a bit earlier and have a good crack at them."
Ponting was also quick to praise his side's mental toughness.
Prior to the start of the Test, Smith tried to gain a psychological edge over the Australians by questioning who was actually leading the side, Ponting or Warne.
"I don't know what he was trying to achieve out of it, whether he was trying to get under our skin and unsettle us a bit," said Ponting after the victory on Friday.
"But when you make statements like he has, then it puts you under a bit more pressure yourself.
"I guess sitting here right now we've had the last laugh."
Smith defended his tactics, saying: "The game is about creating pressure. He's probably come out ahead in this game.
"But the whole series, two major nations competing, we've come here and we mean business.
"Both teams are playing the game very hard and very tough."
The match was also punctuated with several heated conversations between players during play, although both captains said the incidents had not overstepped any boundaries.
"For the first time in a while, Australia is seeing a competitive series at home," said Smith.
"Everyone has taken to it. Everyone is lifting their game. There's always a lot of heat on the ground.
"There's always going to be tense moments and maybe heated moments, but I think that's what people would rather watch than a tame game."
Ponting added: "There is banter on the field and off the field.
"In my position I have to keep a lid on things and make sure that it doesn't get out of control."
The Australian captain also added the banter between the two teams had actually inspired his side.
"We have reacted the best way possible. You have to get out there and make your actions count," he said.
"It's what I said before the game, if there is any doubt about this team in the media, public or dressing room then we have to get out there and disprove it.
"We have done everything in our power to do that."