Imagine if Ponting were as good a captain as Stephen Fleming. The aussies would've made their change of guard seamlessly and would still be the #1 ODI and Test team.
Waugh wasn't as likeable as Taylor, but he was definitely responsible for giving the aussies that aura of invincibility. Ponting has done his best to erode that. Aussies feel much more down-to-earth and beatable these days.
Warne should have taken over the captaincy when Waugh retired. I think it would have resulted in 2 things.
1. He may well have played for an extra couple of years, with the captain's mantle on him. That's huge. With him as captain I can't imagine Australia losing the Ashes once, let alone twice.
2. He would have had so much more influence in shepherding in the next Australian spinner. Hauritz is the kind of player the the kids watching on TV, will not want to emulate. He's not only not good enough for the team, he's won't inspire the next generation of spin bowlers.
Considering what he's said in the past about there being no need for coaches in a cricket team (something I disagree with), it's unlikely that he'll take up a position in that capacity, which is a damn shame. I can only hope that he'll take a more active role in helping raise a new spin bowler. It seems to be something the Australian selectors have simply given up on in the short run. Steven Smith was slated to come in for Hauritz for the last two games. The kid has huge potential, but it's as a batsman and not as a bowler.