England were pegged back by Australia's bowlers to leave the third Ashes Test in the balance, as they finished day two at the WACA on 180-4 in reply to the hosts' first innings total of 385.
Having claimed the last four home wickets for 59 runs in the morning session, the tourists looked to be making good progress when they reached 85 without loss - comfortably their highest opening stand of the series so far.
However, the momentum changed when Michael Carberry (43) was bowled off an inside edge, the opener failing to withdraw his bat in time as he attempted to leave a delivery from Ryan Harris alone.
If Carberry felt a little unfortunate at the mode of his dismissal then Joe Root was left fuming at umpire Marias Erasmus' decision to give him out caught behind for four.
The young Yorkshireman was beaten by an away swinger from Shane Watson and although Australia, and Erasmus, thought there was a nick, Root himself was adamant he'd missed it. A review showed no clear evidence to overturn the initial verdict however, meaning the batsman had to go.
That brought Kevin Pietersen to the crease and England's No.4 was uncharacteristically watchful and scratchy in the early stages of his innings as he looked to bed in with skipper Alastair Cook, who reached his 34th Test fifty with a cut down to the third man boundary off Peter Siddle.
The duo's cautious progress was serving their side well, but Cook then perished for a gutsy 72 looking to play a more expansive stroke off the spin of Nathan Lyon, the left-hander miscuing a cut which was neatly taken by David Warner at gully.
Having been so circumspect to see off the threat of Mitchell Johnson, Pietersen (19 off 59 balls) then lost his wicket to old rival Siddle as his attempted pull looped to mid-on where the back-pedalling Johnson took an athletic catch above his head.
A dejected Pietersen - who earlier became only the fifth Englishman to register 8,000 Test runs - trudged off having fallen victim to Siddle for the tenth time in Ashes cricket.
Rather predictably England went into their shell on the back of those two quick dismissals, although both Ian Bell (9 not out) and Ben Stokes (14 not out) showed admirable concentration to get through to the close.
James Anderson had struck twice early on as England, who are 2-0 down in the series after heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, fought back after an opening day that bowling coach David Saker had described as "disappointing".
It could have been even better had the last-wicket pairing of Siddle (21) and Lyon, who ended up unbeaten on 17, not put on 31, keeping their opponents out in the Perth heat a little longer.
England would have rightly hoped to have wrapped up the innings much earlier after overnight duo Steve Smith and Johnson both fell quickly.
Johnson failed to add another run to his day-one score of 39, becoming the first wicket to go down when he edged an excellent delivery from Stuart Broad, who finished with 3-100, through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
His departure ended a 79-run stand for the seventh wicket with Smith, who himself could contribute only eight further runs before perishing to Anderson.
The centurion was initially given not out by on-field official Erasmus when England appealed for a catch behind. However, the review system showed an inside edge, with both 'Hot Spot' and 'Snicko' giving positive evidence, meaning Smith was eventually sent on his way for 111.
Anderson also accounted for Harris (12), though not before the tail-ender had edged a delivery through the vacant fourth slip region. He was eventually taken at gully by Root.
Indeed, third man proved a profitable area for Australia, with Cook eventually deciding to plug the gap.
Siddle was finally the last man out, Tim Bresnan tempting him to wave his bat at a wide delivery and provide Prior with his third catch of the innings.
The wicket was the Yorkshire seamer's one and only success on his Test recall.