A sick Steve Smith logged his lowest score of this Ashes, 80, before England survived a dramatic four-over burst to emerge with a 78-run lead at stumps on day two of the fifth Test.
England have a golden opportunity on Saturday to bat Australia out of the series finale at the Oval, where they will resume at 0-9 after rolling Australia for 225.
Marcus Harris handed Joe Denly a life on one when he put down a regulation catch in Friday's final over, which ended with Rory Burns successfully reviewing his lbw dismissal.
Burns also copped blows to the body and grille as England, hunting a consolatory victory that would draw the series, seized plenty of momentum thanks to Jofra Archer's haul of 6-62 from 23.5 overs.
Smith threatened to spare Australia's batsmen's blushes for the umpteenth time in his career, having been summoned to the middle at 2-14 after Archer fired out both openers David Warner and Marcus Harris.
The former skipper steadied, as was the case while helping himself to 293 runs as Australia retained the urn at Old Trafford, but offered two reminders he is a mere mortal.
Smith was dropped on 66, when Sam Curran celebrated the prized scalp before realising Joe Root had fumbled the ball at first slip, then trapped plumb lbw by Chris Woakes.
"I've been struggling a bit today. I've got a bit of a flu but I was loading up on the Codral," Smith said.
"I felt pretty good at the crease ... unfortunately I couldn't bat with the tail.
"We've let go a few chances throughout this Test ... however, we're only 75 runs behind. Teams have come back and won from this."
Archer could sense there was something amiss with Australia's best batsman since Don Bradman, who had little support from teammates outside Marnus Labuschagne's 48.
"He didn't look himself today ... didn't look as nailed on as he usually is," Archer said.
"Every time he bats, I don't know what it is, he literally cannot get out ... if he plays a bad shot, the ball lands (safe).
"We know he's going to miss one and today just proves it."
England's advantage would have been ever greater if not for a 37-run stand between Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle.
Lyon was particularly aggressive in a quick-fire 25, smacking Woakes for a sweetly-timed six over square leg's head.
Archer struggled to hide his rage when a dropped catch from Jack Leach reprieved Lyon on 22, costing the express paceman a fifth wicket.
But Archer made a mess of Lyon's stumps then had Siddle out edging in the same over.
"Although the Ashes is lost, we've still got a lot to play for," Archer said, having also removed Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh.
Labuschagne batted on stoically after being struck on the forearm by a short ball by Archer, who trapped him lbw soon after.
Recalled allrounder Curran also helped England seize control of the match, dismissing Matthew Wade then removing Tim Paine and Pat Cummins with consecutive deliveries.
Australian Associated Press