Phil Roper’s efforts could not bring England victory on his 50th appearance as they lost 2-0 to Germany in their Hockey World League Final opener.
England initially took control of the game – the first of three pool matches – with Rio Olympian Mark Gleghorne and Liam Ansell both testing goalkeeper Tobias Walter.
But world number five team Germany soon piled on the pressure and second-quarter goals from Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr were enough to seal victory.
England beat Germany to secure bronze at the EuroHockey Championships in August, but Bobby Crutchley’s side could not repeat the trick in Bhubaneswar.
The first quarter belonged to England as Gleghorne fired a shot from a narrow angle before David Goodfield tried his luck, but both were denied.
Germany came roaring out of the blocks in the second quarter, though, and immediately took the lead through Grambusch.
Ruhr repeated the feat eight minutes later after a break down the right wing and England, missing three players due to illness, found themselves two goals down at half-time.
It was a lead they would never recover, but the side fought hard to the end with captain Roper leading the way as he flung a stunning backhand shot at Walter in the third quarter.
England upped the intensity in the final quarter as they looked to claw back the deficit and their hopes were buoyed when Germany went down to ten men after a yellow card.
Sam Ward believed he had pulled one back after sending it into the bottom corner off Gleghorne's cross, but after referral it was ruled out after it was decided he had not made contact.
And England now have a quick turnaround as they prepare to play hosts India on Saturday before their final pool match against world number two outfit Australia two days later.