A long-standing unresolved problem in non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, namely, the relationship between friction drag and flow rate in inertialess complex kinematics flows of dilute polymeric solutions is investigated via self-consistent multiscale flow simulations. Specifically, flow of a highly elastic dilute polymeric solution, described by first principles micromechanical models, through a 4:1:4 axisymmetric contraction and expansion geometry is examined utilizing our recently developed highly efficient multiscale flow simulation algorithm (Koppol, Sureshkumar & Khomami, J. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mech., vol. 141, 2007, p. 180). Comparison with experimental measurements (Rothstein & McKinley, J. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mech., vol. 86, 1999, p. 61) shows that the pressure drop evolution as a function of flow rate can be accurately predicted when the chain dynamics is described by multi-segment bead-spring micromechanical models that closely capture the transient extensional viscosity of the experimental fluid. Specifically, for the first time the experimentally observed doubling of the dimensionless excess pressure drop at intermediate flow rates is predicted. Moreover, based on an energy dissipation analysis it has been shown that the variation of the excess pressure drop with the flow rate is controlled by the flow-microstructure coupling in the extensional flow dominated region of the flow. Finally, the influence of the macromolecular chain extensibility on the vortex dynamics, i.e. growth of the upstream corner vortex at low chain extensibility or the shrinkage of the upstream corner vortex coupled with the formation of a lip vortex that eventually merges with the upstream corner vortex at high chain extensibility is elucidated.