The match was abandoned shortly after 4.30pm to confirm England's success.
After yesterday's slow over rate and Alastair Cook's cautious and passable homage to predecessor Andrew Strauss, Australia were denied delivering their hosts a comeuppance despite a rip-roaring 90 minutes of cricket in which they reduced England to 35 for three.
Cook was trapped lbw for a duck by a brilliant inswinger from Ryan Harris, yet wastefully reviewed his dismissal when he was out plumb. Jonathan Trott, also struggling for runs this series, soon followed when he edged to Brad Haddin down the leg side for 11.
Australia sensed a tangible comeback when Peter Siddle removed Kevin Pietersen for just eight. The first innings centurion also reviewed, and while hotspot showed no contact there was a clear sound to suggest he had feathered one through to Haddin. His review was also lost and England could no longer call on the DRS.
Ashes retained.. Wow! What a feeling.. Outstanding by this team to do it in 3 Tests..— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) August 5, 2013
Though they didn't need to. After Joe Root, scoring at so slow a rate he made Trott look rapid, and Ian Bell survived until lunch, the Mancunian heavens opened to scupper any chance of an Australian victory. The forecast, as bleak as Australia's hopes of regaining the urn, ensured there would be no more play.
Old Trafford had not hosted a Test match in five years until last week, and the conclusion of this contest suggests the wait should have dragged on. For all the millions Lancashire have spent on the ground's renovation, they cannot to build a roof.
Just like in 2005, the weather ensured there would be no victor and a series which had benefitted from the tourists' resurgence over the past four days was sapped of any interest.
We have retained the Ashes and it feels magnificent!!!— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) August 5, 2013
There have been eight draws from the last 10 Tests in M16. Lord's freakily hosted six successive draws between 2006 and 2008, but usually one side prevails.
And however satisfying this draw is for England (it is the first time an English Test team has succeeded in three consecutive Ashes series since the late 1970s and early 80s), they remain an acquired taste.
Brimming with classy individuals, on a collective level they remain too defensive and the gamesmanship during this series has surpassed any of that from the Strauss era.