England were unable to take advantage of winning the toss on day one of the fourth Ashes Test as Australia ended proceedings in control of the encounter in Durham.
Alastair Cook called correctly for the third time in the series and elected to bat at the Riverside, but England immediately found things hard going against Australia's new ball attack.
The England captain and opening partner Joe Root compiled only 34 runs in 17 overs before the young Yorkshireman was ousted by Shane Watson when he feathered an outside edge through to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Australia's frugal bowling ensured the England'a run-rate had the life almost squeezed out of it, but Cook and Jonathan Trott went about building a solid foundation for the hosts in their bid to win the series outright.
While Cook was content with dead-batting his way to a score of some respectability, Trott was in more fluent mood than his captain, before he was caught by Usman Khawaja off the bowling of Nathan Lyon just a run short of his half-century.
Kevin Pietersen went about taking the attack to Australia as soon as he came to the middle, hitting four crisp boundaries, but was soon undone by a Lyon slider that was snaffled by a gleeful Haddin.
Ian Bell, the man England have come to rely on during this series, was the next to fall in uncharacteristic circumstances as he was caught at mid-off for just six when trying to crash Lyon over the in-field.
Bell's dismissal meant England had fallen from 107-1 to 155-5 in only 15 overs, and provided Australia with the initiative for the remainder of the day.
Matt Prior and Jonny Bairstow attempted to dig in before the former was trapped in front by the tireless Peter Siddle, while the latter became another Lyon victim when the ball struck his pad after a failed sweep.
Stuart Broad lasted only 12 balls before he too departed - caught by David Warner after a spooned drive off the bowling of Ryan Harris - while Graeme Swann became another victim for the Australia seamer.
Jimmy Anderson provided some late defiance against the new ball as he hit three boundaries alongside the unbeaten Tim Bresnan, and England will begin the second day with two bowlers at the crease with the score 238-9.