Wales 9-26 England
For 40 minutes they looked anything but the best side in the world, but England finally came good in the second half as they cruised to victory in Cardiff.
In the first half a combination of English mediocrity and Welsh fervour meant it was the hosts who left the field more upbeat, despite trailing 9-6.
However, in the second half England stopped relying on the boot of Jonny Wilkinson for their points, got some structure in their game and ran in tries through Will Greenwood and Joe Worsley.
Debutant fly-half Ceri Sweeney kicked nine points for Wales, and although it was never likely to be enough once the English machine eventually clicked into gear, Wales at least saved face after last weekend's humiliation by Italy.
England struggled to get their hands on the ball in the opening stages and Wales took the lead through a 40m penalty from Sweeney.
A penalty and marvellous drop goal from Wilkinson nudged England into the lead before English indiscipline handed Sweeney the chance to level the match at 6-6 after 24 minutes.
Pens: Sweeney 3
Tries: Greenwood, J Worsley
Cons: Wilkinson 2
Pens: Wilkinson 2
Drop goals: Wilkinson 2
At this point Wales were more than proving a match for the much-vaunted visitors, and although another excellent Wilkinson drop goal nudged England back into the lead, Wales should have been ahead at the break.
Mark Taylor brushed aside Charlie Hodgson's feeble tackle and raced clear with two men outside him, but with a try looking a formality Taylor held on and the chance was lost.
Sweeney then missed a kickable penalty on the half-time whistle which would have levelled the scores after Phil Christophers, only just on as a replacement for Jason Robinson, was sin-binned for an early tackle.
Despite their late frustration Wales would have been far happier than England, who had failed to produce anything like the fluidity they showed in the November internationals.
With Wales buzzing around them like flies England's discipline was poor and they trooped off at half-time to the sound of cheers from a disbelieving Welsh crowd.
The half-time talk must have done the job because England came out playing a much more structured and controlled game.
Will Greenwood powered through a couple of tissue paper tackles for the first try after a multi-phase move, with Wilkinson converting, and England were on their way at 16-6.
Wales then lost Steve Williams to the bin as their defence began to fray around the edges and replacement Joe Worsley powered over under the posts for a converted try.
After the English flurry the scoring tailed off again, with Sweeney and Wilkinson trading penalties as the game went off the boil.
Although England will be happy enough with the victory, Wales ended the match the stronger and will be delighted to have avoided more yet embarrassment.
Wales: K. Morgan, R. Williams, Taylor, Shanklin, G. Thomas, Sweeney, G. Cooper, I. Thomas, Humphreys, Evans, S. Williams, Sidoli, D. Jones, M. Williams, G. Thomas.
Replacements: G. Williams, Jenkins, Llewellyn, Charvis, Peel,
England: Robinson, Luger, Greenwood, Hodgson, Cohen, Wilkinson, Bracken, Rowntree, Thompson, Morris, Johnson, Kay, Hill, Back, Dallaglio.
Replacements: Regan, M. Worsley, Grewcock, J. Worsley, Gomarsall, Christophers, Simpson-Daniel.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)