England's quest for an historic 4-1 Ashes series win evaporated as Australia's attack ran riot on day two of the fifth Test at the Oval with the help of some ill-judged shots.
Replying to Australia's first innings of 481 all out, which featured a majestic 143 from Steve Smith, Alastair Cook's Ashes-winning side capitulated to 92-8, Mitchell Marsh (3-18) and Peter Siddle (2-18) impressing on their return to the team.
At stumps England - who bowled Australia out for 60 at Trent Bridge 15 days ago - were 107-8, still 374 runs behind.
With rain forecast for the final two days of the Test, the decision whether to ask England to bat again if they fall short of the follow-on could be one of the easiest in the career of Michael Clarke, who will retire from international cricket after the game.
Australia's captain-elect, Smith, set the stage for a dominant display with his 11th Test century and second of the series although he enjoyed an outrageous slice of fortune on 92 when he was caught behind off a Steven Finn no-ball.
It was the second time the Middlesex seamer had missed out on his 100th Test wicket because of overstepping, having also erred against Peter Nevill at Trent Bridge.
Marsh was also guilty of the same error late on in the day when he had Mark Wood caught at slip only for replays to show his front foot had cleared the line by a distance.
Smith's ton came off 197 balls and, aside from a nervous spell in the nineties, was a masterclass in patience and judicious shot selection.
Together with Adam Voges, he added 146 runs off 38.2 overs for the fourth wicket before England broke through after an hour's play - Ben Stokes trapping Voges lbw for 76.
Smith's reprieve came off the very next ball - the first after the morning drinks break - and he duly pressed on while wickets fell at the other end.
Finn finally picked up his 100th Test victim in his 26th Test when Marsh nicked to Ian Bell at second slip and Moeen Ali struck twice before lunch in quick succession, bowling Mitchell Johnson after Jos Buttler had taken a brilliant catch down the leg-side to remove Nevill.
Mitchell Starc scored freely after lunch, launching Moeen high over long on for six before cracking the spinner's next ball over mid-on on his way to his sixth fifty in 22 Tests off just 45 balls.
Together with Smith he added 91 in 94 deliveries - a record eighth-wicket stand for Australia at the Oval - after surviving a tough one-handed chance to Wood at square leg.
Smith's six-and-a-half hour stay ended when he dragged a wide Finn delivery on and eight runs later Starc fell lbw to Stokes, the decision being given on review. Finn finished with 3-90 when a diving Adam Lyth held onto a chance offered by Peter Siddle.
England's reply stuttered into life despite their second-highest opening stand of the series, Alastair Cook (22) and Adam Lyth (19) putting on 30 - two shy of the 32 chalked up in the first innings at Trent Bridge.
Cook was undone by a cracking delivery from Nathan Lyon in the over before tea that span past the outside edge to flick off stump.
But Lyth, desperate for runs after scoring just 86 in his previous seven Test innings, brought about his own downfall as he went after Siddle's second ball of the series only to spoon a catch to mid-on.
Clarke quickly called Johnson into the attack to pepper Joe Root with short deliveries but it was Siddle who struck next, bowling Bell with a delivery that clipped the bails.
Root's stay was almost as short-lived, the world's top-ranked Test batsman adjudged on review to have got the faintest of nicks behind off Marsh, although Clarke was one of several fielders who initially didn't seem convinced.
The clatter of wickets continued as Jonny Bairstow pulled Johnson straight to deep square leg and Lyon bowled Buttler through the gate.
Marsh collected a double-wicket maiden as Stokes embarrassingly pulled the first ball of his new spell high into the air which Nevill pouched behind the stumps, before Broad was then caught at slip by Voges for a four-ball duck.
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