England coach Stuart Lancaster admitted to a deal of disappointment despite seeing his inexperienced side push New Zealand all the way at Twickenham.
The All Blacks came out on top 30-22 but England battled back from an awful start and showed character to take the lead going into the final quarter when Owen Farrell hit his fifth successful penalty.
But a Julian Savea try eventually sealed victory for the world champions, who claimed revenge for a defeat 12 months ago and continued their unbeaten 2013 season.
Lancaster said he was pleased with the way England rallied from their early troubles, but felt victory was there for the taking, which left him wondering just what might have been had they taken their chances.
"You have to look at some of the players we've got missing and some of the new combinations we had, Billy Twelvetrees and Joel Tomkins playing for the first time together in this series," Lancaster said.
"But the over-riding feeling in the dressing room is one of disappointment but that is just how far we've come as a team.
"Credit to New Zealand they are a champion side and they showed it in the end. If you went into the England dressing room, we are desperately disappointed to have lost to a team that has been unbeaten all season."
But Lancaster is still pleased with the way his side is progressing, especially given the amount of inexperienced internationals who are getting their chance to shine.
"Our belief in ourselves and the direction we are going is positive. The players have been great role models and they play with pride and character every time they pull on an England shirt," he added.
"We talk about belief in building a team. when you are putting the jigsaw together of building a team we are definitely moving in the right direction.
"You've got pride in the shirt, a great coaching team and backroom staff and a Twickenham crowd 100 per cent behind the team. All those things help in piecing the jigsaw together to be the best you can be when the World Cup comes around.
"It's been about winning here and now but also building the team to win in 2015 and that is our aim.
"We were sixth in the world when we started, third in the world now, pushing second where I think we should be. That was the stated aim by the end of this season. We've got the Six Nations to go, a summer tour to New Zealand and if we keep progressing that should be achievable."