One embarrassing moment during England's collapse late on day two at the MCG summed up the tourists' nightmare Ashes tour so far.
England's brief resistance came crashing down in extraordinary scenes in the final hour of play on Monday as Australia closed in on securing the Ashes inside just 12 days of play.
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Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland combined for four English scalps in the last 58 minutes of day two to leave the tourists on the brink at 4-31, still requiring another 51 runs to make Australia bat again.
When Boland knocked over Haseeb Hameed for the third English wicket, the tourists sent out Jack Leach as nightwatchman to protect regular No.5 Ben Stokes.
But Boland castled Leach just two balls later to leave England reeling and four wickets down.
Either England were considering sending out a second nightwatchman or Stokes simply wasn't ready, but there were embarrassing scenes as no one walked out to bat for a number of moments.
Captain Joe Root was left standing at the non-striker's end wondering if anyone was going to join him in the middle as England were left scrambling.
“There’s nobody coming out,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said in disbelief.
Eventually Stokes made his way to the middle and had to survive a painful five-minute period before stumps.
Starc snared 2-11 to spark the collapse and narrowly missed out on a hat-trick after his stunning spell put Australia on the verge of taking an unassailable 3-0 series advantage.
Boland (2-1) backed up Starc's heroics to have the Melbourne crowd roaring for the Victorian debutant.
"It was absolutely bouncing...40,000 in the crowd felt like 100,000 when Starc was on the hat-trick," Australia opener Marcus Harris said.
"That was something you dream of as a kid to be a part of."
England's fightback undone by another batting collapse
Earlier, veteran paceman Jimmy Anderson (4-33 from 23 overs) put in one of his best performances on Australian soil to give England an outside chance of keeping the series alive heading to Sydney.
Australia's first-innings lead of 82 paled in comparison to the first two Tests when they were 278 and 237 runs ahead respectively.
The MCG pitch is already tricky to bat on so Australia could become nervous with even a modest fourth-innings chase, but it would take something to rival Stokes' Headingley classic in 2019 to make that even a possibility.
Embattled opener Harris top-scored with 76 as Australia had trouble batting in response to England's first-innings total of 185.
Anderson was comfortably the pick of England's bowlers, but received solid support from Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood, who claimed two wickets each.
"I thought we did really well to stick at our task throughout the day," Anderson said.
"If we're being honest, I think in our first innings we should have got something near that (267) - it certainly felt possible on that wicket.
"We knew the last 12 overs was going to be tough with the new ball, but even so to lose four wickets was really disappointing."
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