Leon Osman produced a fine display on his England debut but it wasn't enough to prevent the Three Lions suffering a 4-2 defeat against a Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired Sweden.
Midfielder Osman looked comfortable throughout as his neat footwork and effective passing at times had England in control.
However, four goals from Ibrahimovic, including two in the last six minutes, wrapped up victory for the hosts - his fourth a stunning 30-yard overhead-kick which fittingly marked the official opening of Stockholm's new 55,000-capacity Friends Arena.
Osman's Everton teammate Leighton Baines was also named in the starting line-up by manager Roy Hodgson and, like his Blues cohort, played the full 90 minutes.
It was the impressive Osman who had England's first chance of the evening, forcing a low save from goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson from the edge of the box.
Ibrahimovic soon fired a warning of what was to come however, neatly prodding the hosts into the lead with 20 minutes gone.
Despite that, England rallied and goals from Danny Welbeck and another debutant, Steven Caulker, quickly turned the game in the visitors' favour.
And while Osman continued to grow in stature as the game progressed, testing Isaksson on at least three further occasions, it was Ibrahimovic who stole the show after the break, first capitalising on a lapse in concentration to steer his country level, then restoring their lead with a low free-kick.
Unfortunately for Osman and Co, the PSG striker wasn't done there as his outrageous acrobatics left the stranded Joe Hart helpless and subsitute Ryan Shawcross - on instead of the unused Phil Jagielka - unable to clear off the line.
Elsewhere, an impressive 90-minute showing from Seamus Coleman wasn't enough to stop Greece inflicting a 1-0 defeat on the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, while Steven Naismith also lasted the duration as managerless Scotland recorded a morale-boosting 2-1 win in Luxembourg.
In Holland, John Heitinga made a goal-saving clearance off the line as the Dutch played out a 0-0 draw with old rivals Germany before being replaced at half-time as coach Louis van Gaal made a number of experimental changes.
Marouane Fellaini was another to get a full 90 minutes of action but it wasn't an evening to remember for the in-form midfielder as Belgium suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat in Romania.
Earlier in the day, Tim Howard turned in a Man of the Match performance as the USA earned a 2-2 draw in Russia, while Apostolos Vellios' helped Greece Under-21s pick up a 1-1 draw against Austria.
Bryan Oviedo started for Costa Rica in their contest in Bolivia. The Blues' summer signing was substituted in the second half before the hosts grabbed an injury-time equaliser to make it 1-1.
Apostolos Vellios helped Greece Under-21s to a 1-1 draw with Austria, while Matthew Kennedy was a second-half substitute for Scotland Under-21s against Portugal. However, the winger was unable to help his side from surrending a two-goal lead to lose 3-2.