Andrew Strauss released the shackles spun around him by Shane Warne this summer to hit England into range of a lead in the Ashes series.
Left- handed opener Strauss struggled against Australia leg-spinner Warne during the first two Tests but struck back with his sixth hundred at the top level in a career just 15 months old.
Australia resume this morning on 24 without loss, in pursuit of a mammoth 423-run target, one which would be a new Test record if successful.
In fact, they will need to occupy a minimum of 98 overs, weather permitting, just to keep the score at 1-1 going into the final two encounters of an enthralling series.
Strauss, twice dismissed at Edgbaston by Warne to huge turning deliveries, made the most of some good fortune yesterday when an edge off Brett Lee flew between first and second slip for four.
He did not look back and played Warne with confidence before succumbing in the quest for quick runs, shortly after reaching a 151-ball century.
"The fact he has got me out a couple of times has made me think pretty hard about how I am looking to score off him," said Strauss.
"I have worked pretty hard in the last couple of weeks trying to counter-act his plans.
"I am better for the experience and the great thing about playing the best side in the world is that you are challenged to come up with a solution to the problems they cause. If you don't, you will be steamrollered."
Once again, the Middlesex batsman took a blow to the head from a Lee bouncer, a plaster covering a nick to his left ear and ruining his 'street cred' somewhat.
But his contribution and that of Marcus Trescothick and Ian Bell, as well as a stunning cameo from Geraint Jones, gave Michael Vaughan the opportunity to send down ten overs at the Australian openers in the evening gloom.
Spinners Ashley Giles and Vaughan himself could not open a chink in the opposition but the task facing Australia is summed up by the fact that England's 231 for three last summer is the highest-ever successful run chase in Manchester Test history.
But Strauss pointed out the extent of England's challenge when he said: "It will be hard work. The wicket seemed to die a little bit this afternoon, but there are definitely ten wickets out there if we keep to our disciplines.
"We might have to use reverse swing and Ashley Giles might have to use the rough.
"But we should not get carried away as the Australians showed last week you can never write them off.
"We have proved we can compete with Australia, that is a big hurdle to overcome and we have used the win in Birmingham as a launchpad into this game."
Fast bowler Glenn McGrath claimed his 28th five-wicket Test haul in England's 280 for six declared and remained defiant Australia will not lose the Ashes this summer.
Questioned whether he was now more fearful of defeat than at any time in the past two decades, McGrath countered: "No. There are still two Test matches to go.
"If something does happen and we do lose the Test, I feel we play our best cricket when we are really under pressure and we will be under pressure then."