Great Britain had to settle for equal fifth in the Nations Cup event at Hickstead despite having three of their London 2012 gold medallists competing.
Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles returned but Britain remain in danger of a Nations Cup exit.
Germany enjoyed their seventh Hickstead win in 15 years, leaving Britain seventh in the overall standings with one event left.
The top six qualify for next month's world final in Barcelona.
Team manager Rob Hoekstra said: "In the end, there were too many faults today. We did not perform to our usual standard."
Brash jumped two clear rounds on Ursula XII and Charles also went clear in round two aboard Murka's Odie de Frevent.
Maher (Tripple X III) posted 21 faults across both rounds and was the discard score each time, with Will Funnell recording five faults and eight faults with Billy Congo.