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, 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.
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.