Australia finally tasted one-day victory, just their second since last Australia Day, but Glenn Maxwell is firming for a return to the XI on Sunday after another shaky performance from their top six, including a potentially career-ending failure for Cameron White.
England already had an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series but it was going to take a miraculous effort from the tourists to continue their winning streak after Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood ran through their top order in Adelaide, leaving England crippled at 5-8 after 6.2 overs.
But England recovered sufficiently to post a semi-competitive 196, and if not for home-town hero Travis Head, Australia would have been vulnerable to losing the unloseable. Head marked his return to the XI by almost repeating his feat of Australia Day 12 months ago when he scored his maiden ODI ton against Pakistan. Bookending those knocks from Head, Australia had lost 10 of their 11 completed ODIs, and Head had been dropped.
However, in the absence of the injured Aaron Finch, Head again showed he can be a valuable opener, with his strong driving helping to ensure Australia will avoid a first whitewash in a bilateral ODI series at home. He fell four runs short of another ton, caught at mid-on as he tried to deal with bounce from Mark Wood.
This was Australia's first match since chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns announced a review into the team's one-day operations, and while there was plenty to like from the bowlers, the batting is not yet out of its rut.
Steve Smith (four) and David Warner (13) both continued their lean spells in this form of the game. Australia's captain and vice-captain are surely safe in the review, but the same cannot be said of White.
The veteran, surprisingly recalled ahead of Maxwell, sensed heading into this game that it was now or never for his international career. But he was trapped lbw for three by Tom Curran, and with three disappointing innings since his call-up, his dream could well be over at 34. Maxwell, who flew to Adelaide on Thursday after Finch strained a hamstring, is lurking in the wings ahead of Sunday's game at Perth's new Optus Stadium.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine ultimately had to steady the ship, steering Australia home by three wickets with 78 balls to spare. Spinner Adil Rashid took 3-49 for England.
A myriad of records had earlier looked under serious threat as Hazlewood and Cummins returned to their dominant Ashes form. Mitchell Starc had been rested, although Australia didn't end up needing him, as his fellow frontline quicks crippled England with fiery opening spells on a helpful pitch.
Only once in ODI history had a team lost its first five wickets for fewer runs, and that was Canada against the Netherlands.
Fears of a ridiculously early finish were allayed, though, as Moeen Ali and Eoin Morgan lifted England into double figures, and then some way beyond. Morgan fell for 33, but Chris Woakes picked up where his captain left off, before Moeen was caught in the deep for 33 to become Andrew Tye's first ODI scalp.
Woakes kept fighting, though, putting on 60 for the ninth wicket with Curran, before holing out for 78 to on long-on, caught by substitute fielder Maxwell. Curran, who had come into the side for Liam Plunkett, was the last man out for 35, with England bowled out inside 45 overs. Cummins finished with career-best ODI figures of 4-24 from his 10 overs, while Tye - who had replaced Starc - took 3-33 and Hazlewood 3-39. As if to reiterate that there are too many meaningless ODIs, the crowd for this supposed marquee fixture was an underwhelming 24,329.