Shaun Marsh marked his return to Australia's one-day side with a century as England went down by 46 runs in Hobart.
Marsh, handed a chance by Mike Hussey's hamstring injury, hit 110 to guide Australia out of trouble to a respectable total of 230 in the second one-day international.
Asked to bat in lively conditions, the hosts had been 33-4 and then 142-8 before a record ninth-wicket stand of 88 between Marsh and Doug Bollinger (30) rescued the situtation.
England were bowled out for 184 in reply, left-arm seamer Bollinger completing a day to remember with figures of 4-28.
Wicketkeeper-opener Matt Prior, having been parachuted in at Steven Davies' expense ahead of the World Cup, went for a three-ball duck.
Jonathan Trott (32) and Ian Bell (32) both fell after promising starts and, the departures of Eoin Morgan (21) and Michael Yardy (22) shortly after the batting powerplay was taken at the start of the 35th over, effectively ended the tourists' hopes.
Australia now lead 2-0 in the seven-match series, which continues in Sydney on Sunday. The victory came at a cost, however, as spinner Nathan Hauritz and paceman Shaun Tait were both forced to leave the field injured.
Hauritz, having picked up 0-36 in eight overs, dislocated his right shoulder when sliding for the ball in the outfield and was taken to hospital, while Tait limped off mid-way through his sixth over feeling his left thigh.
Both bowlers are part of Australia's 15-man World Cup squad, which also includes injured batting duo Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
Australia's final total represented a major recovery after they struggled in the face of early seam movement. Ajmal Shahzad made the initial inroads when Shane Watson (5) and Brad Haddin (5) played on to deliveries that seamed back off the wicket.
Stand-in skipper Michael Clarke's torrid winter continued when he loosely cut Tim Bresnan to Bell for 10 and, while David Hussey (8) was more authoritative with a similar stroke off Chris Tremlett, a diving Strauss held a good catch at gully.
But the tourists' decision to play only three frontline pacemen backfired as Strauss was forced to turn to his spinners, Yardy (2-61) and James Tredwell (0-44), who was playing in place of the injured Graeme Swann.
That allowed Cameron White and Marsh to combine for a fifth-wicket stand of 100 in largely untroubled fashion. White (45) brought up the century partnership with a slapped four off Yardy, but he then offered the simplest of return catches from the next ball to prompt a second Australia collapse.
This time the hosts lost 4-9 as Strauss turned back to his seamers to immediate effect. Shahzad (3-43) bowled his third batsmen off an inside edge when Steve Smith drove loosely from just the second ball he faced and Hauritz (2) pulled Bresnan (2-37) to a diving Trott at fine-leg.
But Shahzad then dropped what would prove to be a costly return catch from Marsh before Yardy bowled Brett Lee for a duck.
Marsh advanced to his second one-day century, bringing up the landmark from 101 balls with a towering straight six off Yardy.
Bollinger, whose previous best score in the format was three, also played his part by slamming three fours in a run-a-ball 30 before Tremlett (3-22) finally ended their fun, and the innings, by removing both from successive balls at the start of the penultimate over.
England's run chase started badly when Prior, playing his first one-day in 10 months following his surprise World Cup call, failed to score before edging Lee to Watson at first slip.
Bollinger then supplied a double strike when first he pinned Strauss (19) on the crease with an inswinger that the skipper reluctantly reviewed, apparently on the advice of Trott, only for technology to back-up the on-field lbw call.
Kevin Pietersen was bowled off an inside-edge for a golden duck to leave England 36-3.
Australia were clearly intent on doing the damage early with their fast men, but a 47-run stand between Trott and Bell had seemingly seen off their new-ball threat only for both to fall to soft dismissals.
Each reached 32 before Trott carelessly thrashed a Smith (1-5) long-hop to David Hussey at short midwicket and soon after Bell cut Lee (2-39) straight to Smith at point.
Hauritz then left the field in clear discomfort holding his shoulder before England started to rebuild their chase again with Morgan and Yardy putting on a patient stand of 44.
But again they lost wickets in quick succession with Morgan miscuing a lofted drive which Tait made good ground to hold on to running back from mid-on.
Yardy was then run out by Watson after being sent back by Bresnan - batting with Trott as his runner due to a tight calf - attempting a quick single and England's innings was dissolving towards defeat.
Bresnan, the last hope, soon skied a catch off Bollinger to Watson at third-man and the tail subsided quickly.