Gary Ballance's maiden half-century helped England post 269 for seven after skipper Alastair Cook failed to survive the first over of the opening one-day international against Australia in Melbourne.
Cook lasted just four balls before edging behind from Clint McKay, after he had already survived a strong lbw shout from the first delivery of the day.
The skipper's early exit continued his miserable tour and prompted a painfully slow start that half-centuries from Ballance (79), playing just his second ODI, and Eoin Morgan (50) repaired enough to set a testing target.
Ian Bell's 41 also helped set a platform before Jos Buttler, who was held back in the order for the final overs, crashed an unbeaten 34 from 24 balls.
McKay was the pick of Australia's bowlers - in the absence of rested Ashes man-of-the-series Mitchell Johnson - returning three for 44 and causing the initial problems in a five-over spell of two for 11.
England therefore crawled to 28 for two from the 10-over powerplay - Joe Root also fell early after managing three from 23 balls and then burning a review on an lbw call - as Cook's side appeared still struck by their Ashes malaise.
It initially took Morgan - one of four England players included who were not involved in the 5-0 whitewash - to provide some urgency with a half-century from 46 balls.
From his next ball though Morgan picked out Nathan Coulter-Nile, one of two fielders at cover, off Glenn Maxwell's gentle spin.
Ballance's innings was more circumspect but vital, as he glued together an innings that only ever threatened to surge.
The Yorkshireman dovetailed with Morgan in an 83-run stand for the fourth wicket, as they pinched singles and worked the Australian fielders.
Morgan's exit was untimely, just four overs before the batting powerplay, during which England again struggled to impose themselves.
The tourists managed 24 runs but also lost Ravi Bopara when he could only help a Coulter-Nile short ball through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Ballance continued to be the guiding force and brought up his first England half-century, in any format, from 69 balls.
Ben Stokes was sent in ahead of Buttler - left to his 'finishing' duties - and smacked 21 from 20 balls before being bowled slogging at James Faulkner.
Ballance survived a drop chance on 74 when Xavier Doherty put him down at third man off McKay, but when the same set of circumstances played out three balls later the Australia spinner held on.
When Buttler was inserted he provided the hitting England required, with some help from Tim Bresnan, to post a total that was greater than all but two of the scores England managed during the Ashes.
That left an inexperienced bowling attack, in which none of Stokes, Chris Jordan or Boyd Rankin had played more than 10 ODIs before today, with a testing target to defend.