Sri Lanka is scrapping to stay in the first Test after Australia assumed full control on a rain-affected second day at Blundstone Arena.
The visitors staggered to stumps on 4-87, still 363 runs behind Australia after Michael Clarke declared the home side's first innings closed at 5-450 midway through the afternoon.
In a horror finish for the visitors, Nathan Lyon struck with the first ball of the day's final over, having Thilan Samaraweera (seven) caught behind from an unnecessary top-edged cut.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (50) and Angelo Mathews will resume tomorrow morning for the visitors with plenty of hard work still to be done to avoid the follow-on amid forecast showers and on a pitch expected to get slower and lower as the match progresses.
The second day clearly belonged to Australia and it was veteran no.6 Michael Hussey who turned the screws on the visitors with his 19th Test century his fifth against Sri Lanka in six matches.
Hussey finished with 115 not out and with Matthew Wade (68 not out) added 146 runs for the sixth wicket, both men releasing the handbrake after lunch as Australian pushed towards the declaration.
The pair accelerated markedly after the extended lunch break and both savaged the relatively expensive Chanaka Welegedara (3-130) and Nuwan Kulasekara (0-80) whenever they dropped short.
Despite a positive start from Dilshan and Dimuth Karunaratne (14), Australia had their first breakthrough shortly after tea when Ben Hilfenhaus claimed his 99th Test wicket.
The no-nonsense Tasmanian quick produced a delivery that shaped subtly towards slip, kissed the outside edge of Karunaratne's bat and carried to Wade behind the stumps for a regulation catch.
Soon after it was Peter Siddle's turn, the Victorian returning to the side following his absence in the third Test against South Africa in Perth to have Kumar Sangakkara (four) expertly caught by Hussey at gully to reduce the visitors to 2-42.
It was another first-up disaster for the former Sri Lankan skipper whose horror run has seen him fail to score in five first innings in his past 10 Tests.
Worse was to come when Mahela Jayawardene (12) was struck on the pad by Shane Watson and sent packing by umpire Nigel Llong.
The Sri Lankan skipper referred the decision to third umpire Aleem Dar but lucked out when replays suggested the ball was destined to crash into the top of leg stump.
Dilshan was typically aggressive in his approach, attacking anything wide and slicing over the slips on a couple of occasions to frustrate the Australian attack.
He brought up his half-century from 82 deliveries with a top-edged hook for four from Watson's bowling late in the day.
Earlier, Clarke (74) started positively but was unable to settle at the crease, adding just four to his overnight total before edging Shaminda Eranga (1-90) to first slip in the third over of the day.
His was to be the only Australian wicket to fall in two shortened sessions, rain delaying the start by 50 minutes and further showers passing over the ground during lunch.
But neither delay dampened Hussey's appetite for runs, the 37-year-old freeing his arms after lunch and continuing a golden summer that has already netted him three centuries.