Fourth Test (at Melbourne), Day 3: Australia 98 & 169-6 (SR Watson 54) v England 513 (IJL Trott 168no, MJ Prior 85, AN Cook 82, AJ Strauss69, KP Pietersen 51; PM Siddle 6-75)
England stand on the cusp of retaining the Ashes after Tim Bresnan ripped through the top order after tea at the MCG.
England had encountered predictably enhanced resistance as they began their attempt to bowl Australia out a second time in pursuit of the urn.
But Bresnan - selected here for his first match of the series in place of leading wicket-taker Steven Finn - shifted opener Shane Watson (54), an ultra-determined home captain Ricky Ponting and then Australia's banker Michael Hussey in a spell of three wickets for two runs in 18 balls.
Australia had lost the three frontline batsmen most likely to give them any chance of closing out the remainder of this fourth Test, after conceding a 415-run first-innings deficit.
Michael Clarke then followed for 13, caught in the slips off Graeme Swann, and before the close, Steve Smith's stubborn resistance was ended by James Anderson as he departed for 38.
With Ryan Harris having suffered a stress fracture of the foot, making him unlikely to bat again, the hosts were fast running out of options.
They ended the day on 169 for six, still 246 runs behind, as England closed their grip on an innings victory, a 2-1 lead and the Ashes.
It had taken them only two sessions to skittle their hosts for 98 in perfect seam-and-swing conditions on the first morning, before Jonathan Trott (168no) and others piled up 513 all out.
But under near cloudless skies on day three, openers Phil Hughes and Watson passed 50 at almost five-an-over second time round.
Australia could nonetheless afford no self-inflicted blows - and that is just what they got when Watson's unwise call for a single to cover off Swann resulted in Hughes having to go, run out via a good throw from Trott and neat work from wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Ponting, under immense pressure with the Ashes so close to being conceded again and after his match fee fine for a spat with the umpires on the second day, strode out to boos from England's travelling support - drowned out by cheers from his own public.
His form has suffered this winter, and he tried to eliminate all risk as he took 15 balls to get off nought.
Two close calls for lbw followed against James Anderson before he reached 10, but neither would have been overturned on DRS.
Watson, meanwhile, reined himself back to necessary consolidation after his and Hughes' flying start, on his way to a 95-ball 50.
England were bowling well but seemed sure to have to prepare for a long haul - until Bresnan (three for 22), with highly-skilled reverse-swing, had his say.
Watson was deceived sufficiently to shoulder arms at one that snaked back to win an lbw verdict from Tony Hill, which narrowly stood after a failed DRS.
Swann should have had new batsman Clarke for two, but the previously impeccable Prior missed an obvious stumping chance.
That appeared to matter little, however, after Bresnan had Ponting chopping on to his stumps and Hussey poking a low catch to cover for a duck.
He would have had Steven Smith too for good measure, had Chris Tremlett managed to hold a tumbling catch from a mis-hook to deep backward-square.
Clarke, having survived that early chance, did not last much longer, edging to Strauss in the slips.
Smith then sent an inside edge on to his own stumps to go for 38, and put England another step closer.
In the morning session, Trott maximised the misery for Australia's bowlers - who nonetheless managed to take England's last five wickets for only 54 runs, Peter Siddle finishing with six for 75.
First, he broke Trott's sixth-wicket stand with Prior - who chipped a catch to mid-on 15 runs short of an Ashes century.
Trott and Prior had put on 173, though - and then after Siddle had Bresnan edging a routine catch behind, pushing forward, Swann joined in to push England past 500 for the first time in 36 years at this venue.
Mitchell Johnson took the most punishment, conceding 134 runs in 29 overs as England gained revenge for his match-winning exploits in Perth.
Ryan Harris limped out of the attack, after injuring his ankle - and it subsequently emerged the fast bowler would need surgery on a stress fracture and may not be able to bat.
But Ben Hilfenhaus finally had an overdue wicket when Brad Haddin took a fine catch above his head after Swann edged an attempted hook behind, and he doubled up for good measure by clean-bowling Chris Tremlett.
By the time Anderson missed a Siddle half-volley to be last out, only Indians Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag stood above Trott in the Test run-scoring charts for this calendar year.
As ever, there was little remarkable about his accumulation.
For England, though, Trott's unbeaten 345-ball and near eight-hour stay was a precious contribution in search of the urn.
* Shane Watson admitted at stumps that there was little hope left for Australia.
Asked if the Ashes have gone again, he said: "Just about.
"After playing so well in Perth and feeling like we have a big chance of really being in the series and winning the Ashes, now to be in the position that we are after our poor performance in this whole game is very shattering."
Australia began their second innings with a monster deficit of 415 - even though Peter Siddle's six for 75 had helped hustle England's last five wickets out for just 54 - and needed to bat again for more than half the match to survive.
Watson was beginning to have hopeful thoughts, however, until Tim Bresnan had his say.
"Getting through Tremlett's spell was a big plus.
"We felt we were in a great place, and then unfortunately it all went pear-shaped from there - me getting out lbw and then losing the wickets that we have.
"It's just extremely disappointing."
Watson had to issue the umpteenth vote of confidence, from the ranks, for Rick Ponting's future as Test captain.
But once more, his faith in his captain appeared genuine and heart-felt. "He's a very, very tough man mentally - as he has shown throughout his whole career.
"Everyone will always be right behind Ricky. He has been a brilliant leader for us. He's such an amazing player.
"With a few things going his way, he'll be able to turn things around.
"There's no doubt no one will ever question his ability to be able to lead the group."
Whoever is in charge for next week's final Test in Sydney, the message is obvious. But Watson obediently spelled it out.
"We have to try and restore some pride.
"The Australian fans have come out and supported us - and we haven't really given them anything to support.
"We really have to go out there in Sydney and try to keep some of supporters on side - because unfortunately, the way we played, we might have turned a few people off."