Spain began a new era under Luis Enrique by coming from a goal down to outplay England in a 2-1 win in their Nations League opener at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Eight weeks after their memorable World Cup run was ended by Croatia in the semifinals, the optimism sweeping England looked justified as Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford opened the scoring after 11 minutes.
But Spain, featuring only five of the players that started their last-16 World Cup penalty shootout defeat by Russia, hit back almost immediately through Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.
La Roja continued to dominate territorially, and punished England before the break when Valencia striker Rodrigo swept home a free-kick from Tiago Alcantara.
The second half was overshadowed by a nasty-looking injury sustained by England left back Luke Shaw who needed lengthy treatment after a clash of heads.
Spain threatened to stretch their lead as they dominated possession but England finished strongly with Rashford wasting a great chance to equalise when he fired straight at David de Gea and then having a goal by substitute Danny Welbeck disallowed deep into stoppage time.
England and Spain will also face World Cup runners-up Croatia in League A Group 4 of the Uefa’s new tournament designed to add spice to the international calendar.