Martin Johnson refused to blame injury for the 18-9 defeat to Australia at Twickenham and vowed England would return a stronger team against Argentina next weekend.
England have lost half their first-choice squad for the entire autumn and fielded an unfamiliar side for the Cook Cup showdown.
But despite securing reams of possession, they failed to threaten the Wallabies’ line at any point and lacked imagination in attack.
England face the Pumas next Saturday with Johnson convinced his squad is strong enough turn the corner, despite throwing away a winnable match yesterday.
“We’ve not talked about the injuries. That was the first game that team has played together but that doesn’t excuse some things,” he said.
“We will be better for that game. We’ll improve on this for next week. We could have given ourselves a better chance of winning.
“We believe these guys are good enough to play in Test matches. Australia had been through the Tri-Nations and played a Test last weekend, we haven’t.
“The leaders of this team have done a great job getting this team together.”
England led 9-5 at half-time and looked comfortable, despite conceding a try to scrum-half and man of the match Will Genia.
“We started very brightly and took the points when they were there,” said Johnson. “It was disappointing to concede the try just before half-time and in the second half we struggled to get out of our own half.
“Both tries weren’t good scores to give away but lots of positives came out of it, some of the young guys did pretty well.
“I told the guys they had played a battle-hardened team who had just come off the back of last weekend’s match against New Zealand.
“That showed a bit at the end. They were that little bit slicker and more used to the Test match pace than we were.”
One encouraging aspect was Jonny Wilkinson’s performance, the Toulon fly-half kicking nine points and producing some signature big hits.
It was his first Test outing since March last year but it looked as though he had never been away.
“Jonny is a world-class player. It’s fantastic to have him back and playing well. He’s disappointed with the result,” said Johnson.
“What he’s been through has made him more experienced and has put him in a better stead. There’s still a lot to come from him. He’s only 30 and has missed a lot of rugby. He has tremendous presence.”