Replacing an ill Clint McKay for his first ODI in more than two years, Hilfenhaus led with a career-best 5-33 to thrash the tourists by 110 runs at the Gabba.
Following on from his wonderful red-ball form in the 4-0 Test series whitewash, the Tasmanian swing king also found the white ball to his liking to combine with Brett Lee (3-49) to rip through the Indian top order.
The visitors never recovered from 4-36 chasing Australia’s 5-288 and sputtered to 178 before Hilfenhaus sealed the bonus-point win in the 44th over.
“It’s a long time since I’ve seen an Australian team bowl as well as we did tonight,” said stand-in skipper Ponting.
“The way that we were able to be aggressive early on with the new ball but at the same time be able to restrict India from scoring boundaries was absolutely first class.”
“The conditions suited (Hilfenhaus) down to the ground today … and I thought his control early on, line and length, along with his aggression was really good.
“We had their batsman under control from the first few overs of the innings.”
Indian skipper MS Dhoni delayed the inevitable with a patient 56 but once he holed out to Hilfenhaus, in the 38th over, a bonus point was in the bag.
The convincing victory took the home side to the top of the tri-series table on 13 points – three ahead of India (10), who will meet Sri Lanka (7) on Tuesday.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Australia with Ponting again suffering another single-figure failure – his fifth in the series to give him just 18 runs at a terrible average of 3.6.
But Ponting denied he wanted a rest despite admitting he was becoming mentally jaded after a long summer playing every Test and one-day match.
Skipper Michael Clarke is due to return from a minor hamstring strain this week but his predecessor’s passion for the game remains as high as ever.
“I’m not going to put my hand up and say I want a break because when you’re going through a lean trot like I have the last couple of games you want to be able to turn that around,” he said.
Ponting struggled to find the middle of his bat and the gaps in the field in a painful 26-ball stay after David Warner propelled the home side to 1-70 with a breezy 43.
Australia’s momentum halted with his innings and only an impressive century stand by Mike Hussey (59 off 52) and Peter Forrest (52 off 71) put the home side on track on a good batting wicket.
Late lusty hitting by Dan Christian (30no off 18) and David Hussey (26no off 20) then delivered a challenging target as they blasted 65 off the last six overs.
India, ragged in the field, copped a second blow after the match with Dhoni suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Sri Lanka for a slow over rate, finishing two overs behind schedule.