The tourists' bowlers were hammered for a record 347 for five by a Prime Minister's XI off 50 overs and in reply England were skittled out for just 181 off 38.4 overs on Friday.
It was a worrying performance with the first of the five Ashes Tests, in Brisbane, just 13 days away.
"On previous tours we have started slow and we've been beaten in warm-up games and we've bounced back quick," England captain Andrew Flintoff said.
"Today was a one-day game and we're not going to get too despondent about it. Next week we have the (three-day) NSW (New South Wales) game, a longer form, and then we have the South Australia game.
"We know we have to improve and we'll do that next week before the first Test in Brisbane."
Tait, little used in his two Tests in last year's Ashes series, threw down his challenge for Australia's third fast-bowling slot behind Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee at the Gabba with explosive figures of 3-21 from eight overs.
The South Australian slinger worked up a full head of steam and claimed the prized wicket of Flintoff for one off three balls. Big-hitting Kevin Pietersen fell for seven.
The day began poorly for England, with opener Phil Jaques leading the charge with 112 off 110 balls after the PM's XI was sent into bat by Flintoff.
It was the highest score by a PM's XI against a touring side in the national capital, surpassing the 334 for 5 against India in 1999 and one totally beyond England Friday.
Only vice-captain and Middlesex opener Andrew Strauss looked the part with some sweetly timed shots before he went for 67.
Opener Marcus Trescothick faced just three balls before he edged Tait to second slip for two and Alastair Cook mis-timed a pull shot to top-edge Ben Hilfenhaus to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for four.
Paul Collingwood looked set before he found Jaques at deep mid-wicket off leg-spinner Cameron White for 35, putting on 58 for the third wicket with Strauss.
Strauss reached his half-century off 50 balls, showing exquisite timing but was annoyed with himself when he tried to hook Tait, only to offer a simple catch to Hilfenhaus at mid-on.
His runs came off as many balls and his innings included 12 fours to all parts of the ground.
Pietersen perished to an ill-judged hook shot, top-edging Hilfenhaus to Paine for seven before Tait bowled Flintoff two balls later.
Flintoff was beaten by Tait's sheer pace to have his stumps spread-eagled.
Earlier, Test opener-in-waiting Phil Jaques gave Australian selectors more food for thought with an impressive century.
Jaques, who has the obstacle of long-time incumbents Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden blocking his way into the Australian Test team, hit nine boundaries and two sixes in his breezy knock off 110 balls.
The runs flowed late in the innings, with 112 runs coming off the last 10 overs.
Shaun Marsh hit an unbeaten 78 off 56 balls, Travis Birt smacked 40 off 45 balls and Adam Voges chipped in with 39 off 32 balls.
The PM's XI batsmen smashed a total of eight sixes in the innings, with skipper Cameron White helping himself to three of them in an unbeaten 30 off 14 balls.
Flintoff, looking for a solid bowling stint to fully test his ankle, was the pick of England's wayward bowlers with 1-55 off 10 overs after conceding just 10 runs in his first five overs.
Lancashire fast bowler Anderson looked ineffective, going for 1-65 off 10 overs while seamer Sajid Mahmood had major problems with overstepping.
He finished with a tally of six no balls and four wides in his sorry return of 1-97 off nine overs.
Panesar only bowled three overs, for 17, and fellow spinner Giles 1-53 off eight overs.
Aus PM XI 347 for 5 in 50 overs (Phil Jaques 108, Shaun Marsh 78 n o, Travis Brit 40, Adam Voges 39; Flintoff 1 for 55, Ashley Giles 1 for 53, James Anderson 1 for 65) beat England 181 all out in 38.4 overs (Andrew Strauss 67, Paul Collingwood 35; Shaun Tait 3 for 21)