Australia sit fourth in the ICC Test rankings following their 4-0 reverse in India earlier this year, but showed signs of improvement in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge when losing to England by just 15 runs.
Former Baggy Green skipper Waugh - one of only 11 players to score over 10,000 Test runs - thinks his country's "once in a generation" bowling attack and opener Shane Watson can propel Australia forward.
But the 48-year-old says it is highly unlikely that the Antipodeans will conquer all-comers, like they did during his stint as captain, due to the growth of the ODI and Twenty20 formats of the game.
"I think we are on the way back," Waugh said of Australia, during an interview with David Gower at the tea interval on day one of the second Test at Lord's.
"When you look at the fast-bowling stock I think we have a once-in-a-generation group and while a couple of guys need to step up the plate batting-wise, I think Watson is the missing piece.
"He has got enormous potential and when he makes that breakthrough he will score a lot of runs and settle down the rest of the order."
On his country, who have not beaten England in a Test series since 2006/07, Waugh added: "We are the fourth-best Test match side but over the next 12 months I could see us pushing up to number two or three.
"But because there are three forms of cricket these days you are not so focussed and there is a lot technology to study the opposition, too.
"So I think you will it will be hard to find a team like West Indies or Australia that dominated the game."
Waugh also gave his take on the following:
This summer's Ashes: "When you are playing you want to destroy the opposition but when you are watching you want to see a good battle and I think this series is going to be fantastic because both sides are evenly matched."
The symbolic Baggy Green cap: "I think it is important to have a symbol to unite the team and the Baggy Green makes it feel special when you walk out, especially as a captain, as when you look behind you and see 10 guys with the cap on it gives you a sense of belonging."
The controversial DRS system: "DRS is a good system in conjunction with good umpiring, but when the umpiring is not up to scratch it puts pressure on DRS. You are getting more decisions right than wrong, the crowd enjoy it and the commentary team have lots to talk about - though we perhaps need the technology to be a bit sharper."