Darren Lehmann conceded that Australia had been "outplayed for much of the game" and that Eoin Morgan produced the outstanding innings but, thanks to James Faulkner's heist, it was still Australia's coach who was able to savour an unexpected victory as England went 2-0 down in a five-match series.
Ashley Giles, England's limited-overs coach, who must have anticipated that England would be able to celebrate their first international win of the tour, was instead faced with the challenge of rallying spirits and preventing the sort of decline that took hold in their 5-0 Ashes defeat.
"We were outplayed the whole game, bar I suppose the middle overs with the ball," Lehmann told Sky Sports. "We needed 100 from 16 and we should have breezed home from there but a couple of blokes played silly shots. We got away with it really.
"Morgan was the best batsman on the night but we bowled really poorly in the last 10 overs, as probably did England."
Giles accepted that England's dressing room would be deflated after threatening to end their losing run and then falling to Faulkner's unbeaten 69 and a last-wicket stand of 57 in 33 balls with Clint McKay. They must win the next ODI, in Sydney on Sunday, to stay alive in the series.
"One thing I won't be doing is scream and shout at them," he said. "They are all feeling pretty low. We need to lift them back up. We need to get some energy back because the next game is already barely 24 hours away.
"But we need to learn our lessons as well. We need to get our skills right and we didn't quite get it right at the back end. But we were just a hair's width away from getting it right. Through this journey we need to learn along the way. We have got a World Cup here next year and as long as we are learning and improving as we go then I'm going to be happy.
"We said after batting that when our guys were going it was almost easier - it ran on to the bat and it was quite even. But still, from the position we were in, we would like to have gone to Sydney one-all."
Giles defended England's selection, which retained Joe Root at No. 3 and, to some eyes, remains batsman heavy. Root produced a tidy spell of offspin, but the departure of Boyd Rankin with more hamstring trouble did not aid England's cause.
"In terms of consistency we felt it was important to go with the same side," he said. "We will look again for Sydney. We had them 240-odd for 9 so I thought we got selection pretty right today. Morgan's innings was superb. When you are in that position nine-and-a-half times out of ten you are going to win the game.
"Stuart Broad comes back for the next one-dayer in Sydney and that is a positive for the side. We have played some really good cricket but we have not necessarily got our best or most-experienced attack out. Guys are learning and sometimes it's a steep learning curve."
Faulkner's appearance as low as No. 9, below Nathan Coulter-Nile, was a surprise, but Lehmann laughed away the suggestion that it was his latest masterstroke, stressing that the order was solely down to the captain, Michael Clarke.
"It was the skipper's decision," he said. "Nathan needed to have a hit. He hasn't played too much international cricket and he can hit a long ball. James will be back up the order next time I think."