A resurgent England attack tore through Australia's batting lineup with six wickets in the final session to leave the hosts reeling at 164 for nine at the close of an attritional second day of the fourth Ashes test on Friday.
Bowled out for what seemed a paltry 255 in the morning, the tourists hit back through their seamers in the afternoon with Stuart Broad and James Anderson's parsimony and discipline capturing three wickets apiece before a crowd of more than 78,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, fighting another desperate rearguard action, was 43 not out at stumps, with number 11 batsman Nathan Lyon yet to face a ball and Australia trailing by 91 runs.
"England are on top. We have had our worst day of the series," Australia opener Chris Rogers said after scoring 61, his third half-century of the series.
"They bowled outstandingly and we're up against it."
Australia may have recovered the Ashes and wrapped up the five-test series 3-0, but the frailty of their batsmen has been repeatedly exposed throughout the series before being hastily concealed by the dourness of Haddin.
Unlike the first three tests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, however, none of the keeper's team mates lingered for long enough to mount a rescue of any sort and an England that, for many, seemed destined to be swept 5-0, suddenly appeared rejuvenated and chirpy.
"Days like that have been few and far between on this trip, and we're really hungry to get something out of this tour and I think we showed that today," Anderson said.
"I thought we fielded, or most of the other guys, fielded pretty well all day. We dived around a lot, we chased everything. I thought (captain) Cookie set really good fields, we bowled to those fields and it was a really complete performance."
Having restricted Australia to 96-3 at tea, their bowlers turned the screws under bright sunshine, and Steve Smith was the first domino to fall.
The number five batsman had hung around for 95 minutes and 77 balls for his 19 runs, but flashed a frustrated cut shot that sent an edge flying to