There was not anything to play for save pride, which is just as well for England because their old failings against spin returned to embarrass them once more. Slog, sweep or -nurdle, they still appear to have little answer to it on slow, bare pitches after being hustled out for 80, their lowest T20 score which in turn lead to their heaviest T20 defeat.
Chasing India's 170 for four, they were 39 for two at the end of the fifth over, so handily placed, when MS Dhoni introduced his first over of spin.
Harbhajan Singh last played an international more than 12 months ago after being dropped against England. Stuart Broad's side should have had the psychological high ground but Harbhajan opened with a wicket-maiden, after bowling Eoin Morgan, and took a further three to finish with four for 12 as the demons of doubt transferred from bowler to batsman.
"Any international defeat is frustrating especially when you put in a performance like that," Broad said afterwards. "It doesn't change our destiny a huge amount. We still hop on a bus tomorrow to Kandy. But I'm pleased it happened today and not in a game that could knock us out."
Every team can have an off day, but England's batsmen have yet to prove, with or without Kevin Pietersen (who lest his acolytes protest, played in the 5-0 one-day series defeat in India last autumn), that they can master spin in these conditions.
If they do not, it is difficult to see them retaining their World T20 title, for even if Pallekelle is more suited to their kind of game in the Super Eights, the semi-finals and final are back here at the Premadasa, where the pitches will be just that little bit more worn and suited to the spin.
"We have to learn from our -mistakes and there were some pretty clear ones in the batting line-up," Broad said.
Asked whether the team missed Pietersen's batting, he added: "No, we've got the squad, the 15 guys that we have here. We didn't perform well with the bat today but we have done in the last three or four games. It's important we focus on what we did well in those games and what we did wrong today."
It has been reported that Pietersen is close to signing a 12-month central contract after meeting Hugh Morris and David Collier between his lengthy stints in the TV studio, but they must have kissed and made up quickly because there had been still several impediments 48 hours ago.
Collier flies back today but, for -Pietersen to be granted a central contract, the England's and Wales Cricket Board's board of directors must ratify it. That could take some time.
England ran out of time yesterday after Broad won the toss and put India into bat. He said that was to practise bowling first, though more likely it was to be on the right side of Duckworth-Lewis after the previous night's torrential rain allowed Australia to prevail over the West Indies. Those with a solid understanding of advanced maths reckon that the D/L equation favours the side batting -second in T20.
England also went with their -primary bowling plan of roughing up their opponents' with pace, picking four seamers, including Tim Bresnan for Samit Patel, after the team's brains trust had taken a long hard look at the pitch. Bowling is England's strong suit, but Graeme Swann aside, they had an off day too. Their tactic and execution requires at least some fine-tuning, if not a rethink, should they make it back to Colombo for the semi-finals.
Banging the ball in short, then later trying to rely on yorkers well wide of off stump, did not work.
Virat Kohli set the tone, with some sumptuous stroke play. Unlike England's batsmen, he did not then slog across the line. The first time he tried it against Swann, Jonny Bairstow caught him at deep midwicket.
Bairstow was superb in the field but that was not generally the case with his team-mates. Jos Buttler managed a brilliant bit of juggling with Alex Hales to get rid of Dhoni, but their fancy moves with the bat later on failed.
Broad said the defeat did not change anything. With regard to England's status in the tournament, it does not. But he and his team-mates should note how India aim to get 150 before trying anything too fancy with the bat. You have to be in the game to win.
Sunday in Colombo, England were away with the fairies.