England created a hatful of first-half chances at the Principality Stadium, but failed to convert any of those openings.
Wales made England pay after the interval when Gareth Davies and George North capped fine attacks for Warren Gatland’s men, growing in confidence while Borthwick’s side faltered.
England will host Wales at Twickenham next Saturday, whereupon head coach Borthwick expects his side to be far sharper on the front foot.
“In that first half we created a load of opportunities in the opposition 22, and in Test rugby you’ve got to score when you’re there,” said Borthwick. “We came away from that first half with three penalties, so we weren’t able to create any scoreboard pressure from that.
“In the first half our scrum was strong and we won penalties, the lineout provided a lot of good ball for our attack. But in the second half those areas faltered.”
England ceded possession a startling 21 times in Cardiff, a stat that Borthwick took little pride in retelling.
With just three warm-up matches and 36 days left before England launch their World Cup by facing Argentina, Borthwick and his coaches know they have their work cut out to develop a cutting-edge attack.
“I expect us to build through these four games,” said Borthwick. “I have spoken to the team and everyone knew the turnovers, the count I saw was 21 turnovers to nine. It’s very difficult to win Test matches with that turnover count.”
Borthwick will finalise his 33-man World Cup squad tonight, and tell all the players in Cardiff tomorrow morning.
England will then announce that squad at Twickenham on Monday.
“I will speak to all the players tomorrow morning and inform them of selection,” said Borthwick. “And then we will announce that publicly on Monday morning.
“There are still deliberations and meetings tonight, but in the end the decisions come down to me.”