Having poured down at the Kia Oval overnight, it was raining at the scheduled start time of 11am and did not let up for any signif-icant period, with a final heavy shower leading to an abandonment at 4.05pm.
With England 247 for four in their first innings - responding to Australia's 492 for nine declared - and mixed weather forecast again on the final day, the prospects of a result are virtually nil.
That would be frustrating for the tourists, who would have welcomed the chance to press for a first win in nine Tests, but will barely bother England.
Avoiding a single defeat in an Ashes series for the first time since 1977 is a handy enough prize. Indeed, the only obvious incentive to play today - and the saturated outfield may make that problematic even if the skies hold - lies with Ian Bell. He has three centuries in the series and, with 29 not out to his name, the prospect of pushing for a fourth 100 must hold allure.
England coach Graham Gooch defended England's approach on a turgid day three.
"You go out there and do the best you can every day and, at the end of the series, if you are in front then you have played some decent cricket, obviously," he said.
"The game doesn't always go the way you would like it to when you're sat down in your team meetings and you plan out what you want to do.
"The Australian fast bowlers have bowled exceptionally in the last two or three Tests and have really put our top order under pressure, so credit to them.
"You can't play the ideal game every day. We are the ones with three Test wins and they are the ones with nil Test wins."
Gooch did concede that, despite the series win, England will be looking to improve in all areas heading in to the Ashes series Down Under at the end of the year.
"Our guys need to assess their game at the end of the series and I think one thing for definite is that we will be working very, very hard to make sure we improve when we go down to Australia - we need to improve," he added.
"My philosophy on cricket is that you try to build a good side to take on anyone in any cond-itions - that is the beauty of the game and the beauty of Test cricket, having a side that can win in any conditions. Whatever pitches Australia produce we will be ready for that. We know that to beat Australia in their own back yard we are going to have to be a lot better."
Australian debutant James Faulkner was more scathing about England's lack of attacking play but admitted the opposition had played well enough throughout the series to dictate the pace of their innings.
"It's been a pretty boring day today, much like yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow the sun comes out and we have a chance of winning this Test match, which is something we're going to try and do.
"They can play however they want to play, they are 3-0 up for a reason, but if you're 3-0 up I'd have thought you'd try and get in a position to win 4-0. That's their choice: good on them I suppose.
"The way they batted yesterday, I suppose they chose to bat that way. If you face 115-116 overs for 240 it's a pretty boring day. I know the fans get a refund for their tickets today but maybe they should have for yesterday.
"I think when they come to Australia it will be played on our terms and they are going to be in for a hell of a challenge."