The Football Ferns have lost 2-0 to China at an invitational four-nation tournament in Yongchuan, their first match since their disappointing World Cup campaign.
New Zealand dominated much of the match, but like the World Cup, they struggled on attack and China made them pay.
Former Paris St Germain midfielder Wang Shuang scored both China's goals, striking against the run of play early in the second half, before adding the second past goalkeeper Erin Naylor in stoppage time.
The Ferns were missing key players Abby Erceg and Meikayla Moore, while debutant Claudia Bunge was handed a starting berth, with Nicole Stratford and Jana Radosavljevic making their first appearances off the bench.
"I'm gutted by the result, to be honest, because I thought it was an outstanding performance," said Ferns coach Tom Sermanni. "I felt we nullified China for most of the game and created the better chances.
"Until they scored the first goal, Erin hardly had a save to make and they didn't create a clear chance.
"We had a great chance to equalise and had to take a couple of risks at the end, so I think 2-0 was a cruel result for the performance."
The Ferns have now lost five straight games, but they may have some positive news on the horizon, with Newshub revealing that New Zealand Football is considering a joint bid with Australia to host the 2023 Women's World Cup.
New Zealand will now play Canada, who lost 4-0 to Brazil, in their second match on Sunday.