England batsman Dawid Malan anchored the visitors' innings in Hobart but former player Graeme Swann was furious at him for what he perceived to be gifting the Australians a wicket.
Not his own, having made a quickfire 50 from 36 balls, but that of opener Alex Hales, whom was "sold down the garden path" by his teammate, said Swann.
Hales, the Nottinghamshire opener, had just started to get going with 22 from 14 balls when he produced a leading edge from Ashton Agar that looped back towards Malan at the non-striker's end.
With a split-second to react, Malan spread his arms to avoid the ball, but in doing so cleared the way for Agar to take the catch unimpeded, although unsighted for a split second, having had to run behind Malan.
Agar was jubilant in celebration, pointing with two fingers at his eyes to indicate he couldn't see the return catch for part of its journey.
It was a nifty bit of reflex work from the Aussie but it incensed former England international Swann, who famously retired midway through the 2013-14 Ashes.
"He absolutely has to do more ... he hasn't done anything for his partner there," Swann said on BT Sport.
"He's not tried his hardest. All he has to do, he doesn't have to move out the way there.
"He can just stand his ground, Agar can't catch it. He's sold his partner down the garden path there."
Had Malan stood his ground and allowed the ball to hit him, he could have been in danger of falling foul of Law 37 - Obstructing the Field, but that would have required both the Australians to appeal, and the umpires to decide that Hales had "wilfully" impeded Agar.
Hales' dismissal left England 2-60 in the seventh over, but it was Eoin Morgan's dismissal in the 10th over that started a middle-order collapse.
England lost 6-33 from Morgan's wicket, including a span of 5-18 as Agar and Glenn Maxwell, with 3-10 in two overs, took a stranglehold on the innings.
That collapse yielded a second return catch for Agar, this one more direct to the bowler as Sam Billings took a step down the track to bunt the ball back at the bowler.
It also included the wicket of Malan, who went down on one knee to sweep Maxwell high but picked out Andrew Tye at deep backward square.
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.
First T20I Australia won by seven wickets. Scorecard
Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21