Australia missed a golden chance to hammer home their ascendancy despite hometown hero Travis Head's best efforts at Adelaide Oval, where his side reached 7-191 at stumps on day two of the first Test against India.
The hosts' star-studded pace attack exceeded expectations by restricting India to 250, completing the innings when Josh Hazlewood struck with Friday's first ball.
The question was always going to be whether Australia could scrape together a winning score in the absence of suspended superstars Steve Smith and David Warner, on whom they have relied so much in recent years.
It's too early to answer but Head, unbeaten on 61 in his first home Test, still has a lot of work to do given his team will bat last, while India hold a 59-run lead.
Head, the first South Australian batsman to play a Test in Adelaide since Darren Lehmann, fought back and his 50-run partnership with Pat Cummins was Australia's most-productive stand.
Aaron Finch, out for a third-ball duck in his first home Test, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh were swept aside as their side slipped to 4-87.
There was no chaotic collapse but also no batsman capable of scoring freely on a day when India delivered 31 maidens and Australia stroked 17 boundaries.
Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar was among the pundits to raise an eyebrow at what he termed a "defensive mindset by the Australian batsmen at home".
"(It) is something I've not seen before," Tendulkar tweeted.
Ravichandran Ashwin, whose Test bowling average in Australia was an unflattering 54.71 before this game, accounted for left-handers Harris, Khawaja and Marsh.
Virat Kohli later handed Ashwin the second new ball but the gun offspinner couldn't prise out Head or Mitchell Starc.
Harris and Khawaja were undone on 26 and 28 respectively by challenging, well-flighted deliveries but Marsh's sixth-consecutive single-figure score at Test level was more of a gift.