Steven Finn took five wickets as Australia finished day two of the third Test 168 for 7 for a lead of 23.
More than two years since being sent home from the tour of Australia having been deemed "not selectable" by then-coach Ashley Giles, Finn has returned with a bang against the same opposition.
He removed Steven Smith cheaply before tea and sparked a collapse in the long evening session by having Michael Clarke and Adam Voges caught in the slips off successive balls.
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Mitchell Marsh survived the hat-trick delivery but was soon bowled emphatically and Finn returned to take the wicket of Mitchell Johnson as Australia ended the day 168 for seven in their second innings, just 23 runs ahead.
[England v Australia: Full scorecard - via Cricinfo]
Finn told Sky Sports Ashes: "We knew there was a lot of hard work to do today, so to get that lead and then put that pressure on as group of bowlers was fantastic.
"It's been a while since I played Test cricket so to to get a five-for on my game back feels fantastic.
"My first over went for 14 but after that I settled in well and bowled some decent balls."
An England win inside two days looked possible at one stage, but they will have to return on Friday to finish the job.
"You never want to look too far ahead, there was a sniff at one stage but they played well in the middle of the innings," said Finn.
"There's still pressure on us, we've got to do a professional job tomorrow."
The one sour note for the home side was an injury which forced James Anderson off the field.
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed nothing beyond "a tight side", and Finn added: "No news, I've heard nothing yet.
"But pulling up halfway through an over, for someone like Jimmy, he wouldn't stop like that if it wasn't hurting."
With Australia staring defeat in the face, Johnson admitted: "It's not ideal, it's not something we're happy about.
"We've got 23 runs ahead and we need to fight in the morning. We need (Mitchell) Starc and (Peter) Nevill to put on a hundred partnership. England might be one bowler down as well.
"We've got to stop this rot, it's not looking promising for us at the moment but a t one stage it looked like we might get bowled out and not take it to a second innings for them.
"If we get 120, 130 ahead, we can have a real hard go at it."
Johnson took his 300th Test wicket when he removed Jonny Bairstow, adding to his 2,000th run in the format which came on Wednesday.
He said: "You always want to win the Test but when you get these kind of accolades it's always enjoyable."
[STORY: England struck by James Anderson injury scare]
England removed Chris Rogers and Steve Smith to leave Australia in trouble on the second day of the third Test on Thursday as a compelling Ashes series ebbed and flowed again.

England's Stuart Broad celebrates after dismissing Australia's Chris Rogers

Image credit: Reuters

Australia were 73 for two at tea in their second innings, 72 runs behind England who were bowled out for 281 in the afternoon session at Edgbaston.
David Warner's belligerent 56 not out, made off 37 deliveries, gave the touring side hope while captain Michael Clarke, desperately searching for form, was unbeaten on two at the interval.
Stuart Broad, bowling round the wicket, rapped Rogers on his back leg to trap the opener lbw for six.
Smith then perished for eight when he top-edged Steven Finn to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
England established a decent lead, despite losing their last three wickets for four runs, after an entertaining eighth-wicket stand of 87 between Moeen Ali and Broad.
The pair added quick runs after lunch, Moeen again showing how valuable he is coming in at number eight.

England's Moeen Ali

Image credit: Reuters

All at sea against his spinning counterpart Nathan Lyon before the interval, he smashed Mitchell Johnson for six boundaries including three in one over.
But after Broad (31) skied Josh Hazlewood to mid-on, Moeen quickly followed and the innings ended tamely.
A hostile Johnson had begun the second morning on fire, removing Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in his first over to pass 300 test wickets.
Johnson steamed in and directed a bouncer that was homing in on Bairstow's throat, the startled batsman fending it off with his glove to be caught behind.
Two balls later Stokes also got a taste of 'chin-music', unable to get out of the way of another thunderbolt and falling in the same fashion.
Joe Root kept his cool to compile 63 while Hazlewood and Lyon took three wickets apiece for Australia.
The five-test series is level at 1-1 after England won in Cardiff and Australia hit back in the second test at Lord's.
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