Winger Chris Ashton admits England should have beaten Australia on Saturday as they went down 20-14 at Twickenham.
The result dealt a severe blow to England's hopes of being among the top seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the draw is made in London on December 3.
It also piles on the pressure ahead of upcoming meetings with South Africa and New Zealand on successive Saturdays.
England kept in touch in as Australia dominated the first hour and then dominated the final quarter - but they could not convert any of that pressure into points.
On four occasions, the first with 22 minutes left in the match, captain Chris Robshaw opted not kick penalties at goal in search of a try that did not come.
"I think we cost ourselves the game. We had enough possession in their 22 and we just didn't take our chances," Ashton said.
"I think the right decisions were made from those penalties (to go for touch or quick taps). I thought we had them but we just couldn't find that finishing pass.
"Toby Flood tried to find me through the back and if the pass had gone to hand I would have been through a hole. And then Thomas Waldrom dropped the ball over the line.
"You have to take your chances. Our attack was better (than it was in last weekend's 54-12 win over Fiji) but we are lacking that clinical edge.
"We put ourselves in a position to win that game and that was the frustrating thing."
Ashton's frustration on the field was evident - particularly when Manu Tuilagi ignored him on the overlap and ran straight into two defenders.
Tuilagi had done something similar to Charlie Sharples at the end of the first half but got away with it when he had just managed to score in the corner.
England and Leicester are working hard to develop Tuilagi's skill-set and distribution, but on this evidence the centre remains worryingly one-dimensional.
"Manu is a strong lad and he always gets over the gainline so his first instinct is to do that," Ashton said.
"Hopefully the more I can play outside him the more he will get used to it, then he will recognise the difference between running and passing.
"I thought there was a lot of space out there but it is just us getting to that space and finding the right hole.
"That is the frustrating thing - when you can see it unfolding in front of you and it just breaks down. A bad pass or we end up giving the penalty away."
Who was England's man of the match against Australia?