Australia spinner Nathan Lyon removed England's Joe Root for 15 before paceman Peter Siddle sparked delirious cheers at a sunbathed Adelaide Oval by capturing the key wicket of Kevin Pietersen for four.
All-rounder Shane Watson then completed a banner morning for the hosts by removing opener Michael Carberry for 60 in the third-last over before lunch after four successive maidens had raised the tension to boiling point.
Ian Bell was on 29 with Test debutant Ben Stokes yet to score, the pair left to resurrect England's flagging first innings in the face of Australia's mammoth total of 570-9 declared.
Trailing 1-0 in the five-Test series, England still face a Herculean task to reach 371 and avoid the follow-on, with the re-developing ground's new drop-in wicket expected to provide more encouragement for the bowlers on days four and five.
Having resumed on 35-1 with captain Alastair Cook bowled by Mitchell Johnson late on Friday, Carberry and Root started promisingly enough, resisting a fierce barrage of fast, short-pitched bowling from the red-hot seamer.
Root suffered a lapse facing Lyon, however, inexplicably slog-sweeping his first ball from the spinner to be out for 15 when Chris Rogers swooped in from deep backward square to take a simple catch.
Siddle was introduced the following over and immediately troubled Pietersen. Australia chanced their arm with a caught behind review but the technology showed no nick and the batsman was spared.
Siddle had his man in his following over, however, beating the bat once before Pietersen strode forward purposefully only to flick straight to short midwicket where George Bailey juggled the catch.
David Warner, who scored a century in Australia's first Test win in Brisbane, continued his good start to the series by leaping low and to his left to take a brilliant catch at forward square leg to remove Carberry.
Carberry lasted over three hours for his maiden Test half-century and belted 10 fours in the knock, but will rue having taken a rash swipe at Watson in a bid to relieve the tension after four straight maidens.
- Sports & Recreation
- Kevin Pietersen
- Michael Carberry
- Peter Siddle
- Joe Root
- Shane Watson