Australia bounced back from another failure from their opening pair as they reached for 98-2 at lunch on the first day of the fourth Ashes test at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The series is tied a 1-1 with two tests remaining and victory for the tourists would ensure that they retain the urn.
England hoped to take the momentum of their remarkable comeback at Headingley into the contest on a slightly chilly and overcast morning and their supporters were on their feet with just the fourth ball of the day.
Stuart Broad claimed the wicket of David Warner for the fifth time in this series with the left-hander caught behind as he made a belated decision to leave the ball but allowed a thin outside edge to Jonny Bairstow.
Australia then found themselves at 28-2 when Broad rapped the pads of Marcus Harris and, after some consideration, umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger and his verdict was upheld by video review.
Australia’s openers have averaged 15.14 so far – not since 1888 have Australia’s top two contributed less during an Ashes series.
The departure of Harris brought the returning Steve Smith to the crease after just 38 minutes of play, the world’s number one ranked batsman having missed the previous test due to concussion as a result of a bouncer from Jofra Archer.
To the delight of the crowd Archer had the ball in hand and it took him just three deliveries to attempt another bouncer.
But with England sensing a chance to eat into the Aussie middle order before lunch, Smith and Marnus Labuschagne quickly settled and set about upping the run-rate before the interval.
Labuschagne, who kept his place after replacing Smith at Leeds, looked confident as he progressed to 49 from 82 deliveries, hitting eight fours.
Ominously for England, Smith who has two centuries and a 92 to his name in the series, looked in confident mood while making 28.