Steve Smith has cemented his status as the world's best batsman after another incredible display in the fourth Ashes Test.
Smith and Pat Cummins, the world's top-ranked batsman and bowler, lived up to their mantle on Saturday to bust the contest open as their side stalked a 2-1 series lead.
The pair helped put Australia within sight of an Ashes-retaining victory at Old Trafford, where England will resume at 2-18 on day five of the fourth Test after being set a target of 383.
Fresh from his astonishing double century in the first innings at Old Trafford, Smith again proved the thorn in England's side in the second innings.
With batsmen falling around him - including David Warner for a second duck in the match - Smith took the match by the scruff of the neck.
Having rolled England for 301 and with a first innings lead of 196, Smith belted 82 runs (off 92 balls) to well and truly put the match out of England's reach.
Incredibly, it was Smith ninth consecutive Ashes half century, seeing the former skipper break his own record.
Smith's latest display of mastery with the willow had fans gushing with admiration for a man described by many as the best batsman since Don Bradman.
And on he rolls... Steve Smith is the only player in the past 50 years to score 250 runs in an #Ashes Test in England. He's now done it three times.— Adam Burnett (@AdamBurnett09) September 7, 2019
Have been resisting saying this through the Ashes.. we didn’t see Bradman.. but we’ve seen @stevesmith49 .. this is becoming truly Bradmanesque and redefining run-making in the modern era..— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 7, 2019
#Ashes19 Steve Smith is too good for England, What a performance.— Neville Dsouza (@neville_dsouza) September 7, 2019
Can someone test to see if Steve Smith is human because after seeing him today, I don’t think he is— Harley Smith (@Hazzer4Smith) September 7, 2019
The difference between the two teams is Steve Smith and that's the bottom line.— Al Kemist (@kemist_al) September 7, 2019
Rain unlikely to save England
Manchester's weather is notoriously fickle but there is no rain forecast for Sunday.
Smith’s quick-fire 82 prompted Tim Paine to declare at 6-186, before the Aussies struck with the ball.
Cummins blasted out Rory Burns and Joe Root, the most imposing roadblocks in England's first innings, for ducks with the second and third balls of the innings.
Jason Roy survived the hat-trick delivery but the out-of-form batsman and his middle order have a mountain to climb as they seek to salvage a draw.
"It will be difficult," Smith said.
"My first 20 or 30 balls, I felt pretty vulnerable when they were bowling that good length.
"It's pretty clear what we need to do tomorrow ... it's just about relaxing and enjoying it."
Coach Trevor Bayliss pointed to England's one-wicket win in Leeds as proof that "anything is possible".
"They believe they are good enough to bat for 98 overs and save the game," Bayliss said.
"I'm always positive, I think we can do it."
Australia haven't retained the urn in England since 2001 but none of those squads boasted a batsman of Smith's calibre.
The tourists crashed to 4-44 on Saturday, when tensions bubbled as Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer both struck twice in marathon opening spells.
Rather than go into his shell, Smith fastidiously counter-punched in a 105-run stand with Matthew Wade to give their side the best chance to secure victory.
Smith swatted, walloped and waltzed across the crease as he overwhelmed the hosts during a 92-ball blitz, punishing good and bad balls.
One of many defining images of the onslaught came when Broad, expecting Smith to shuffle to the leg side, pushed his delivery so far wide it rocketed past Jonny Bairstow and to the rope.
Broad argued it shouldn't have been called wide; Smith was simply aggrieved to be denied runs.
Smith, having stumbled to the ground while trying to get bat on an Archer bouncer, practised the shot while he was on his back.
The former skipper eventually holed out to Ben Stokes in the deep, handing left-arm spinner Jack Leach his first and only wicket of an innings in which he went at 6.44 runs an over.
"I made an effort to be quite aggressive against Leach," Smith said.