Steve Borthwick claims the England team he inherited from Eddie Jones "weren’t good at anything" but says he has seen progress despite defeat to Scotland.
The former Leicester Tigers boss saw his side lose the first game of his tenure in their Six Nations opener, as they were beaten 29-23 at Twickenham.
In a World Cup year, it marked another damning result for England's prospects, with their dismal run during 2022 contributing to the exit of long-term boss Jones.
But now Borthwick, who worked as the Australian's assistant before leaving for Leicester, has given a withering appraisal of the squad left behind by him amid the Scotland post-mortem.
"I've been frank from day one in saying there's a lot of work to do," he told the Guardian. "When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I measured the team and got all the data for the team, we weren't good at anything.
"It was as frank as that. My job is to make sure we get some improvements next week. I have asked the players to play a new way.
????-????— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 4, 2023
Defeat in the Calcutta Cup. Congratulations to @Scotlandteam and best of luck for the rest of your campaign.#ENGvSCO | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/zrbBpAPRvb
"One thing I have got to do here is get the players to believe in themselves, and get the players to bring their strengths to the pitch.
"[I have to] get them to play to the best of themselves, which I don't think we have seen them do for a while. I think you saw an improvement in that regard."
England held a 20-12 lead at one point in London, before a collapse allowed Scotland to sweep to a historic victory against their rivals.
Having brought respected assistant Kevin Sinfield from Leicester to oversee defence, the soft nature of his side's concessions is a sticking point for Borthwick.
With that in mind, however, he felt the team showed spirit to their concessions, adding: "I'd seen a habit with the team of conceding points early and not being able to respond to it.
"We conceded points [against Scotland] and the biggest thing I was looking at was the response. I thought the response was magnificent."