Mike Gatting has launched a blistering attack on the England team after their capitulation in the fourth Ashes Test.
Pietersen was among the failures as England slumped again
England trail Australia 4-0 in the best-of-five series after being beaten by an innings and 99 runs at Melbourne.
Gatting, the last captain to lead a winning England side down under, told BBC Radio Five Live: "It started off reasonably - but it's getting worse.
"We haven't kept our discipline, and against a side like Australia you have got to keep your discipline."
Gatting added that England's bowling at the MCG was "horrible" while the fielding was "poor".
"All we seemed to do was try to bounce out number 10 and 11," he said. "It was ridiculous."
They shouldn't have lost in Adelaide and they fought hard in Perth - but here there was a resignation, almost
In a reference to the England bowling plans which went missing and were handed to the Australian media, Gatting said: "Whatever the next sheet of paper they put up is, I hope it says 'let's get the basics right first'."
The tourists now face the prospect of a 5-0 whitewash for the first time since 1920-21, with just the Test in Sydney to come.
Gatting believes England were unlucky to be 3-0 down after the Perth Test but feels they have now taken on the demeanour of a thoroughly beaten side.
"They shouldn't have lost in Adelaide and they fought hard in Perth - but here there was a resignation, almost," he said.
"You can't say they weren't trying, but once you are on the end of a hiding it is not a nice place to play cricket.
"They have really got to try to pick themselves up if they are to get anything out of Sydney. If there is any incentive it is not to lose 5-0."
Geoff Boycott also hit out at the current crop of England players, claiming they looked like they had "given up" in Melbourne.
"Apart from Alastair Cook, I don't think anyone has the stomach to play a rearguard innings," the former England opener told BBC Radio Five Live.
"It was just poor all round. That's what's so disappointing for the fans. It's like they've given up."
Boycott added: "You can't see England winning in Sydney. They are too inconsistent to win.
"They are patchy, they have one good session out of three and that's not enough to win Test matches."
Another ex-England captain, Brian Close, agreed that the bowling has not been good enough.
"It looks as if we have gone backwards, and our bowling standards are not good enough," he said.
"We have hardly got a spin bowler of real top class in the game at the moment, and the pace bowlers are not very accurate."
It's the small things that are crucial, they send vibes out to the other team, and it's the small things that have annoyed me in this series
England coach Duncan Fletcher has come in for criticism throughout the tour over matters of selection and preparation, and Close believes it is now time for him to leave the post.
"I think he is past his sell-by date," he added. "In our day we didn't need coaches. If you played for England you were supposed to be a good player and didn't need coaches."
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain was dismayed at the apparent lack of determination shown by England's batsmen.
"You have got to show the opposition an 'over my dead body' approach, the stubbornness of a Boycott or an Atherton," he said.
"Was that stubbornness there? I don't think that was evident from anyone."
On England's performance over the four Tests, Hussain added: "They've played poor cricket.
You now hope that England will start to admit that they got their preparation wrong
"It's the small things that are crucial, they send vibes out to the other team, and it's the small things that have annoyed me in this series... like Kevin Pietersen, after four Tests, finally being moved up to number four in the batting order."
England legend Ian Botham insisted the England camp ought to finally accept that their preparation for the Ashes series had been poor.
"You take your hat off to Australia. When they lost the Ashes they sat down and worked things out," he said.
"They admitted that their preparation had not been right.
"You now hope that England will start to admit that they got their preparation wrong. There is no getting away from that, just look at the score in the series.
"It's praise to Australia and to England it's 'stop hiding, admit when you've got it wrong. Put your hands up and take it on the chest and then move on, and move on quickly'."