Andrew Strauss had a losing experience on his first day as England captain but found consolation in the performances of James Anderson and Matthew Prior as the tourists were beaten by the narrowest of margins.
Anderson took three wickets in five balls but still ended up on the wrong side, Pakistan A sneaking victory by one wicket with one delivery to spare after Bazid Khan's unbeaten 90.
England were suffering a second untimely defeat against the same opponents at Bagh-e-Jinnah, following their six-wicket reverse in a three-day match here last month just before the start of a Test series they were to lose 2-0.
This time, a five-match limited-overs series is looming against the hosts - and England must nurse a fresh wound as they gear up for the first fixture on Saturday.
Strauss, pressed into service as captain in the absence of the rested Marcus Trescothick within a day of returning to Pakistan following the birth of his first child, was mindful of the effects a defeat can have yet said there was much to cheer England too.
"It's never ideal to lose - I think the warm-up games before the Test series showed that," he said, adding he was delighted to be asked to captain England - even at such short notice.
"As much as anything it kept me awake today, because I was a little bit jaded.
"I always enjoy captaining a side, and it was a pleasure to do it - just a little bit disappointing to lose.
"But there were positive performances, and that is encouraging."
Among those were Anderson (four for 46) and batsmen Prior (72) and Paul Collingwood (75 not out).
Strauss said: "Matt Prior played very well at the top; Colly continued his good form, and I thought the bowlers did a pretty good job. I was very impressed with Jimmy Anderson and Liam Plunkett.
"It is just a question of using that as a bit of impetus going into the game on Saturday."
The captain was left needing to accentuate the unquestionable positives, after Bazid produced an ingenious paddle-sweep for a telling boundary over the wicketkeeper's head off Anderson and then edged the verdict at the death with an 88-ball innings which contained five fours and two sixes.
It was cruel on England's 'forgotten' pace bowler, who was summoned to bowl two of the last three overs and answered the call emphatically by having Yasir Arafat caught at cover, Zulqarnain Haider yorked and Rao Iftikhar also bowled.
Prior had earlier clumped 12 fours in a near run-a-ball 50, and Collingwood consolidated his pivotal middle-order slot with his third halfcentury in as many innings to marshal the second half of England's 236 for seven.
Senior batsmen Strauss and Kevin Pietersen were less successful, the former continuing his run of low scores on tour and the latter getting a good ball to also go cheaply after his team had been put in on a hazy morning.
Strauss fell to an attempted expansive drive in the sixth over, Riaz Afridi's swing finding the inside edge and wicketkeeper Zulqarnain taking a diving catch.
Prior, who announced himself with a cover-driven and an on-driven four in the second over from Afridi, continued to play with freedom with Vikram Solanki - as well as looking a little loose against the moving ball on occasions.
The Sussex wicketkeeper's progress was relatively sedate, given such a high boundary count - but, with sideways movement to contend with in the air and off the pitch, he deserved credit for staying put as well as scoring runs.
England needed some solidity from him, too, once his 74-run stand with Solanki was broken when the Worcestershire captain mis-hit a pull to mid-wicket in Abdul Razzaq's first over - and then Pietersen got a thin edge behind off a ball from Arafat which seamed away.
Prior, unable to find the boundary after reaching his half-century as the ball softened and the field and pace slackened, was sensible enough to farm the singles until he fell to a faulty sweep to short fine leg off the first delivery from off-spinner Tahir Khan.
He had lasted long enough to help Collingwood become established - and in a 50 which contained just three fours, the Durham allrounder proved the mainstay as Geraint Jones, Ian Blackwell and finally Kabir Ali perished in a noble cause which realised 73 runs in the last ten overs.
Kabir was especially unlucky - his on-drive hitting non-striker Collingwood's bat to loop up for a comfortable catch at mid-on.
Anderson saw off Yasir Hameed, neatly caught at second slip by Solanki from an edge on the back-foot defence, to give England an early strike with the new ball.
But Rafatullah Mohmand (55) and Asher Zaidi kept their team in contention - to the point that England needed a breakthrough badly when Liam Plunkett had the left-hander cutting a short ball loosely into the hands of cover.
Rafatullah reached 50 before he went to a running catch on the boundary by Pietersen off Collingwood who struck again in his next over with the wicket of Razzaq.
It was the first of a succession of promising blows for the tourists. But Bazid just gained the day.