Lewis Moody warned England cannot afford to go into their shells as they begin preparations for Saturday's must-win clash with Argentina at Twickenham.
England head into the game on the back of an 18-9 defeat to Australia which highlighted a host of familiar frailties, chief among them a lack of creativity and an inability to win quick ball.
Moody did all he could in that area on Saturday and, along with Jonny Wilkinson, was one of England's most impressive performers on his return to the Test team.
The tigerish Leicester flanker believes England must look to express themselves if they are to bounce back against an Argentina side that has also been hit by injuries.
"Argentina will be flipping tough, as we well know," said Moody.
"We have to make sure we don't go into our shells. We now have to build on the quality we had, the nuggetyness and the fight we showed to keep them out when they could have scored a couple of times.
"That builds confidence and we have to make sure we are more clinical when it comes to taking points and scoring tries.
"There is a lot to work on for all of us. Defensively, we need to get in their faces a bit more and in our attack we have to start finding those holes."
The Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom encapsulated the major problems Johnson and his management team must solve this week by admitting that Australia did not feel remotely threatened by England's attack.
England were on the front foot in the opening 20 minutes and Wilkinson kicked them into a 6-0 lead but even during that period of dominance the Australian line was barely threatened.
That platform disintegrated when Australia cranked up their game in the second half and England did not score another point after the 28th minute.
Some harsh questions have started to be asked about England's progress - or lack of it - under Johnson, and of their tactical approach.
Argentina centre Gonzalo Tiesi believes England's game-plan is inhibiting his his club-mate Danny Care, whose sniping runs and quick thinking set the tempo for Harlequins.
And as a former London Irish player, Tiesi admitted he is also surprised at how little impact England's attack coach Brian Smith - the former Exiles boss - is having.
The suspicion, all but confirmed by one player last week, is that Smith is having to fight an uphill battle against the rest of an England management team bent on being conservative.
"People say Danny is asked to do things that he normally doesn't do or maybe he is limited because it is more structured," said Tiesi.
"He is a top-class player and should be able to adapt but sometimes international rugby is different to club rugby.
"You are not going to run from your own 22 and sometimes you have to play things more by the book."
England's defeat to Argentina saw them slip back down to their lowest ever world ranking of eighth and Johnson's record since taking charge is now seven defeats from 12.
One of the five victories came in the drawn summer Test series against the Pumas, who England will face again in the pool stages of the 2011 World Cup.
With New Zealand arriving at Twickenham on November 21, neither England nor Johnson can afford anything other than a repeat of that Old Trafford victory.
"There is always pressure," said Moody.
"It is as simple as that. It really would have been a big bonus to get that win from this first game.
"It is good to get that game out of the way, to realise where we are as a team that has been depleted by I don't know how many injuries and know what we have got to work on.
"It would have been better to work on them after a win but we can take some positives. Jonny controlled everything and at times we looked dangerous but we just couldn't finish it off.
"We have to keep those positive and now work on the areas that weren't so good."