Steve Borthwick insisted England will hit the heights again if they continue to show the "courage and endeavour" that pushed Grand Slam-chasing Wales to the limit at the weekend.
England produced their most encouraging performance of Borthwick’s nine-Test reign as captain and felt they had missed a golden opportunity to leave the Millennium Stadium with a victory.
England out-scored Wales by two tries to one - an impressive statistic given the recent fortunes of the two sides - but were ultimately let down by a lack of discipline.
England gifted Wales 18 points in penalties and Leigh Halfpenny scored a breakaway try while Andy Goode was in the sin-bin early in the second half.
Nevertheless, Borthwick has taken more confidence from England’s all-round performance in defeat to Wales than he did from the laboured win over Italy.
England now have two weeks to prepare for Ireland at Croke Park.
Borthwick said: “We are making strides forward. We are a team focused on improvement and we know if we keep improving the results will come.
“We were tested and we showed a huge amount of courage and endeavour. We came out to play and we moved the ball very dangerously. We fell short, but there are massive positives to take from it.
“I thought some of the performances were magnificent in the way the boys stuck together.
“I think two tries to one away from home is a magnificent effort. We looked very dangerous all match, but ultimately we lost the game.”
England left Cardiff frustrated, convinced a victory was theirs for the taking after they twice succeeded in silencing the partisan home supporters.
Paul Sackey’s brilliant try helped England close to within a point at half-time after Wales had profited from a raft of early penalties to open a 9-0 lead.
England hit back again after Halfpenny’s try had opened Wales a 17-8 lead with a solo score from Delon Armitage but despite the encouraging aspects they made too many mistakes.
Ireland will head home after back-to-back victories over France and Italy.
And England prop Phil Vickery warned England they will need to be much more ruthless if they are to win in the hostile surrounds of Croke Park on February 28.
“It’s not good enough to put in a half-decent performance. There were opportunities to win the game,” said Vickery.
“If we had backed ourselves a bit more then I think we could have gone on to win.
“When you are away from home, you always have to be squeaky clean. If guys are giving away penalties, or deemed to be giving away penalties, it’s easy for the referee to award penalties and sin-binnings.
“We’ve got to deal with it, it’s up to us, it’s our problem.
“There are some positives and there are some negatives to take out of the game. Being realistic, we lost a Test match we could have won.
“The next game is Ireland at Croke Park, which I remember from two years ago, so it is out of the frying pan and into the fire.”