Buttler had made an inauspicious start since succeeding Eoin Morgan and England came into this dead rubber with question marks over their batting following limp displays at the Ageas Bowl and Edgbaston.
They posted 215 for seven at Trent Bridge, underpinned by Dawid Malan's 77 off 39 balls, but that was overshadowed as Yadav Suryakumar mixed belligerence with audacity in a stunning 117 from 55 balls innings before holing out in the 19th over. India needed 21 off the last six balls but Chris Jordan sealed a 17-run win for England.
The consolation victory, with India prevailing 2-1 following three matches in four days, owed much to Reece Topley's three for 22 while David Willey and Chris Jordan collected two wickets each after England had recorded an imposing total thanks to Malan and Liam Livingstone's 42 not out off 29 balls.
In 10 previous T20 innings, Malan was without a half-century and averaging 21 with a 105 strike-rate so this was a pleasing return to form, with the left-hander crunching five sixes, three of them off Ravindra Jadeja.
Livingstone did not manage any fours but muscled four sixes as England added 129 runs in the 10 overs, against a largely second-string India bowling attack, with the tourists resting Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, as well as Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal.
A curious decision centred on England deciding against chasing, a tactic they mastered under Morgan, but Buttler wanted first use of a flat track with small boundaries to put pressure on India.
Buttler bristled early on, taking two offside fours and a six over midwicket as he used Umran Malik's express pace against him. But the England skipper threw his head back in despair, trudging off for 18 after dragging a subtle Avesh Khan cutter on to his stumps, while Jason Roy nicked off to Malik for 27.
Well-disguised changes of pace from India's seamers initially troubled England although Malan was given a let-off after being lured into a false stroke as Harshal Patel failed to hold on to a return catch. Phil Salt was not so fortunate, his off-stump uprooted by a Harshal delivery that dipped alarmingly.
But Malan was already into his stride, heaving and driving the quicker leg-spin of Ravi Bishnoi before dispatching Jadeja and Malik over the rope either side of reaching a 30-ball fifty. Malan kicked into overdrive from that point while Livingstone muscled back-to-back sixes off two Harshal full tosses.
A couple of Bishnoi googlies deceived Malan, top-edging high to Rishabh Pant who barely had to move, and two balls later Moeen, skewing to backward point, but England's charge would not be halted.
Livingstone was put down in the deep by Virat Kohli on 36 moments after he had slammed over cover off Avesh, who leaked 21 runs in the 18th over. Cameos of 19 off nine and 11 off three from Harry Brook and Jordan respectively ultimately helped England to 200 and beyond.
The hosts looked to be well on top as India lurched to 31 for three after five overs, with Topley getting an inside edge off Pant before Rohit Sharma clothed a slower ball into the deep, either side of Kohli slashing a short and wide David Willey delivery to cover.
But Yadav was not ready to throw in the towel and brought a crowd made up mainly of India fans to their feet with a whip off Willey for his first six before taking three fours in an over off Livingstone. Shuffling across his stumps, Yadav was routinely able to get bowlers to bowl into his arc.
After going past fifty, he really started to motor, clattering Livingstone high into the leg-side twice while he then took Gleeson for six more, showing his full range of power and versatility.
Topley and Willey halted the charge by snaring Shreyas Iyer and Dinesh Karthik respectively, but not before Yadav had brought up an outstanding 48-ball hundred, doing so with a deliberate edge for four. Yadav had needed just 16 balls to get from fifty to three figures.
Buttler had gambled on holding back the last over of spin and it might have backfired as Yadav flashed two fours and a six off Moeen, who threw in a couple of wides as the tension grew. But Moeen threw out another wider delivery, which took the toe-end of Yadav's bat and was caught by Salt at long-off.
That proved decisive and Jordan finished matters with two wickets in the final three balls as India fell short on 198 for nine.