Olly Barkley reflected on England's latest RBS 6 Nations calamity and admitted: ''It is a bitter pill to swallow.''
Barkley and his fellow goalkicker, fly-half Charlie Hodgson, missed six penalties between them as France compounded England's post-World Cup misery by claiming a first Twickenham victory since 1997.
While England outscored the reigning RBS 6 Nations champions 2-0 on tries - Barkley and wing Josh Lewsey claiming quality first-half touchdowns - French scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was England's nemesis for a second successive season.
The former Gloucester star amassed 19 points during England's defeat in Paris last March, and he added another 18 through six successful penalties to keep French Grand Slam hopes alive with an 18-17 win.
England have now lost eight of their last 11 Tests, and although they played far more rugby than against Wales a week earlier, the end product remained the same - defeat.
Not since 1987 had England lost three championship games in a row, and they must now pick themselves up for a Dublin appointment with unbeaten Ireland on February 27.
''The last two games we have lost by two points and one point, and it is a bitter pill to swallow,'' said Bath centre Barkley.
''We have lost key players that are hard to replace, people like Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back, all guys when the chips are down that you can really turn to.
''We are at a learning stage now and we have to get through this,'' added Barkley, who also backed skipper Jason Robinson.
''I think that Jason is leading the team fantastically well. I have been quite inspired with the way he has dealt with the side.''
Results though, suggest England are struggling, but they were their own worst enemies, handing Yachvili chance after chance through poor technical discipline that New Zealand referee Paddy O'Brien quickly pounced upon.
''We should have finished them off, and giving away penalties does not help. Sometimes you have to play the referee, and we didn't get away with it,'' said England flanker Lewis Moody.
''They (France) never looked like scoring a try, and that is the crux of it. If the other team never looks like scoring, you don't need to give away penalties.
''I gave away two penalties that got them back to 17-12. We have to be more consistent with referees, myself included.
''If you know the referee has tendencies to penalise you in certain areas of the game, you plan accordingly,'' he added.
''We know the laws, it's a matter of playing the referee on the day. Sometimes decisions go against you, sometimes they go with you.
''You can't blame the referee. He does his job and you just have to be on the right side (of his decisions).
''Two penalties were harsh. He did me for offside, for being in front of the kicker, which I wasn't. The other was for playing the ball - that is a 50-50 decision, and it went against me.''
England coach Andy Robinson will not be panicked into sweeping changes for the Lansdowne Road mission in 13 days' time.
But he clearly needs to assess the goalkicking problem, which has now become a major issue in ace marksman Jonny Wilkinson's continued absence through injury.
Hodgson again looked vulnerable under pressure - he was also wide with a straightforward late drop-goal attempt - and if Robinson retains him for Ireland, then Barkley must take over as first-choice kicker.
Two of Barkley's three misses were from way out as England looked to extend a 17-6 lead just before half-time, and he appears to have far more poise than Hodgson.
''We have lost a game we should have won,'' said Robinson. ''Unfortunately, we got ourselves slightly stuck in a second-half rut and gave away penalties that Yachvili punished us with.
''It is bitterly frustrating. What did France create? Our mistakes, through giving penalties away, gave them the ability to win the game.
''France won the game because of our mistakes. It's a simple fact, and it does not take rocket science to work it out.
''It's a big disappointment, but we are big enough to take it on the chin. In terms of how we tried to play, we moved forward (from the Wales game). We will become a better side after what happened in this match.''
After Ireland's heroic big-game hunt of the Springboks and Scotland's six-try runaround of the Pumas, the challenge of engineering the most spectacular win of the autumn series now falls on Wales, writes Peter Jackson.