Head coach Brian Ashton refused to hide behind a horrendous injury list after England were stunned by a second-half fightback from Wales.
But he was critical of England’s lack of composure and their failure to stick to the gameplan as Wales rattled up 20 unanswered points to open the RBS 6 Nations with a 26-19 victory at Twickenham.
England dominated for the first hour and opened a comfortable 19-6 lead courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson’s boot and a try from Toby Flood, despite losing winger David Strettle (foot), flankers Lewis Moody (calf) and Tom Rees (knee) and centre Mike Tindall (ribs).
But England then imploded and Wales took full advantage, surging into the lead with tries from Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips in one chaotic three-minute spell.
Ashton said: “It would very easy for me to sit here and try to find a way to hide behind those injuries for what happened in the second half but I am not going to do that.
“I still think we had enough experienced players on the field to direct operations in the second half, without any shadow of a doubt.
“Wales did exceptionally well to come back after half-time but I am not sure they had to work exceptionally hard for their two tries.
"It is difficult to understand what happened. We need to sit down and talk about it. The lack of composure is a concern.
"One of our key messages before the game was not to feed them and we were pretty good at that in the second half. We took all our food out of the cupboard and put it on a plate."
It was slightly frustrating for England that they only led 16-6 at the interval because they were had been so dominant, bossing the breakdown and hardly giving Wales a sniff.
And while Ashton will address the second-half failings, he was also anxious to stress the positives from England’s performance in the opening 40 minutes.
"In the first half England played as well as they have for some years," he said.
"I am still very encouraged by that and it is important for us not to forget that. If we could have sustained our first-half performance I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about a defeat."