Chris Cairns top-scored and took two wickets on his return but the BLACKCAPS fell to a 147-run defeat to a Brett Lee-inspired Australia in the first Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series match at Eden Park.
Cairns made 37 not out as the home side recorded 105 all out from 28 overs.
The veteran also took two wickets for 54 as he closes in on 200 One-Day International wickets.
But Lee was in irresistible form, collecting three for five runs from a six-over spell.
He was ably assisted by Stuart Clark, who took three for 19 and fine fielding, notably from Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
Daniel Vettori skippered the side for the first time on home soil, and led the side well with two wickets for 29 runs and two more catches.
Scott Styris also took two wickets, with Kyle Mills and James Franklin also taking one each.
Vettori won the toss and put Australia in to bat and the BLACKCAPS performed creditably in the field.
Restricting Australia to 252 for eight, Ponting top-scored for the visitors with 64.
He also became his country's highest-ever ODI run scorer on his way to moulding a 117-run partnership - from as many deliveries - with Simon Katich.
After that pair were dismissed, Vettori, Styris and Cairns impressed to restrain the world champions’ final total.
They were given an early scare in the second over of the match, when Franklin struck to take Adam Gilchrist, sent back to the pavilion for only three runs by Nathan Astle’s catch.
Ponting and Katich pushed on, but the BLACKCAPS persisted and Styris claimed Katich’s wicket for 54.
The batsman looked to lob Vettori at mid-on but the fielder kept his composure to catch his mis-hit shot.
Ponting was soon to follow, with Vettori again involved, dismissing his counterpart LBW for 64.
Australia added only 12 more before Styris took his second victim, bowling One-Day international debutant Brad Hodge for 13.
Andrew Symonds and Clarke steadied the ship somewhat.
The duo edged the visitors over the 200 mark, but Vettori broke the 57-run partnership in the 43rd over, removing Symonds for 44 with a clever delivery which evaded the charging all-rounder and clipped his off-stump.
Michael Hussey came to the crease and Australia began to strike on in a bid to raise the target, before Clarke attempted one big hit too many, and Cairns picked up his first wicket.
Cairns was clearly eager to state his intent and he quickly claimed Lee as his second victim. The Australian was dismissed without score, and Cairns moved within reach of yet another career landmark.
Mills delivered the final over, and Vettori took a second, spectacular catch. Brad Hogg attempted to drive Mills on the leg side, and the left-arm spinner did excellently to take the ball low to his right.
The target looked achievable, but the Australian attack - and Lee in particular - took charge.
Under such intense pressure, the BLACKCAPS' top order could not formulate a significant partnership.
Cairns and fellow all-rounders Jacob Oram pushed the score on when they were brought together at 33 for six.
The duo put on 41 together, Oram putting on 23, including the first six of the innings off Bracken in the 20th over, before Clark bowled him.
Cairns progressed, but Clark and Symonds repelled any sting in the tail.
The BLACKCAPS have an opportunity to level the series in Wellington on Wednesday.
Interactive Video Highlights of the game are available exclusively to 431 Club members. to find out more. for ticket information for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series.
Interactive Video Highlights of the game are available exclusively to 431 Club members. to find out more.
for ticket information for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series.