Claire Emslie made history as she scored Scotland Women's first goal at a World Cup, but it wasn't enough as England held on to record a 2-1 win in Nice.
In front of a crowd of 13,188 at the Allianz Riviera stadium, Nikita Parris put the Lionesses ahead with a 14th-minute penalty awarded for handball via VAR and Ellen White's curled finish made it 2-0 in the 40th minute.
Having looked very much in control for most of the game, Phil Neville's team, who were denied by some fine Lee Alexander saves and had two efforts chalked off for offside - one from White in the first half and the other from Mead immediately after the restart - then endured a nervy finale after Emslie pulled a goal back with 11 minutes remaining.
Erin Cuthbert had sent an effort just wide of Karen Bardsley's right-hand post just before the interval, while the Chelsea forward, Emslie and Lisa Evans all had half-chances before the Scots' goal.
While Scotland could not save themselves from defeat, they will take heart from their efforts in their first Women's World Cup finals appearance, two years after being thrashed 6-0 by England in the last meeting, at Euro 2017.
The teams next play on Friday when Shelley Kerr's side face Japan in Rennes before England take on Argentina in Le Havre.
The Scotland manager said on BBC One after the match: "England are tipped to win this tournament so to run them so close, especially in the second half, is a positive.
"I didn't think we played particularly well in the first half but I've got to give England credit because they played with intensity and put us under pressure in the right areas and got their two goals.
"I think we came out in the second half and showed what we are capable of.
"I don't want to comment on the VAR decision because the referees and the officials have got a very difficult job. What I want to do now is applaud England for their performance and we need to dissect our performance.
"We came into this tournament for the first time knowing that we just need to win one game.
"It would have been nice if it was the first one and we got something out of it but it doesn't have to be. We regroup and rest and recover and then go again against Japan."
Her England counterpart Phil Neville added: "The first game is always the most difficult game.
"But we set certain standards and the players now need to keep meeting those standards and if we drop below those standards then we get second-half performances like we just got.
"At 2-0 it is always a dangerous scoreline and we needed a third goal. Scotland have got good players, they're a good team."