India sensationally threw away the chance to claim a consolation victory over Australia in Canberra on Wednesday, losing nine wickets for 46 runs after hundreds from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli had put the tourists in complete control.
Having been on the receiving end of three impressive Australian chases, India appeared set to comfortably hunt down a mammoth target of 349 at Manuka Oval when they reached 277-1 with more than 12 overs remaining.
However, Dhawan (126) and Kohli (106) then departed in quick succession, either side of skipper MS Dhoni falling for a duck, and the remaining wickets dramatically fell in a hurry as Kane Richardson finished with 5-68.
India were ultimately dismissed for 323 to lose by 25 runs, with Ravindra Jadeja stranded on 24 not out, and are now in danger of being whitewashed 5-0 ahead of the final ODI in Sydney on Saturday.
Australia's score of 348-8 was built around an opening stand of 187 inside 30 overs between Aaron Finch (107) and David Warner (93), while late cameos from Steve Smith (51 off 29 balls) and Glenn Maxwell (41 off 20) ultimately proved crucial.
Rohit Sharma (41 off 25) provided the initial impetus at the start of India's innings, before gloving Richardson down the leg side at the end of an over featuring two sixes.
Dhawan and Kohli then combined superbly in a second-wicket partnership of 212 - both men scoring at better than a run a ball and producing a series of eye-catching strokes as Australia toiled in the field.
The eventual dismissal of Dhawan, to a catch at backward point off John Hastings (2-50), seemed likely to be no more than a blip for India, given the relatively modest target remaining.
However, Hastings then had Dhoni caught behind and Australia soon claimed an even bigger wicket when Kohli picked out Smith at mid-off to give Richardson his second breakthrough.
Panic was suddenly apparent in the India camp and the likes of Gurkeerat Singh (5) and Rishi Dhawan (9) are likely to rue the wild shots that resulted in their exits.
The chief beneficiary of India's collapse was seamer Richardson, while Mitchell Marsh (2-55) rounded things off after overcoming a bout of cramp - with Australia even able to get away with a number of late drops.
Warner - returning after the birth of his second child - and the similarly aggressive Finch had earlier set the perfect platform, after the latter had struck Richard Kettleborough on the shin with a straight drive that forced the umpire to later be replaced.
Although Marsh struggled to get going en route to 33 off 42 balls, Smith and Maxwell duly cashed in - the latter with some typically inventive shots as the final over brought 18 runs.