Peter Siddle admitted it had been a tough second day for Australia at the MCG, but insisted they could still save themselves from defeat in the fourth Ashes Test.
An unbeaten century from Jonathan Trott helped England reach the close on 444-5, giving them a commanding lead of 346 runs.
Australia, who had been bowled out for just 98 on Boxing Day, did give themselves a glimmer of hope with two early wickets, both taken by Siddle.
The Victorian also removed Kevin Pietersen for 51 but despite Mitchell Johnson also striking twice in quick succession, the hosts face an uphill task as they bid to keep the series alive heading to the final Test in Sydney.
"It was a tough day," Siddle told Sky Sports News HD. "We got a few wickets in the first half of the day but after that it was a tough time.
"Obviously starting at 150-odd for none is always tough. We stuck at it all day and kept it nice and tight.
"It's going to be tough for us to win the game, and it's going to be a lot of hard work from here to try and push for a draw.
"Tomorrow morning is going to be a big session for us. Then when we get our chance to bat again we've got to dig in and see how long we can stick out there for a long time."
Siddle was the pick of the Australian attack on his home ground, removing openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss early on before trapping Pietersen leg before after lunch.
"It's pretty similar (to a usual MCG pitch)," he added. "It's always tough work on the second, third and fourth days here. That showed today as we couldn't get the breakthroughs as often as possible.
"The key is to be full and straight. That's been the basis for playing here in the past, and also what has worked in the last couple of days."
The situation all seemed to become too much for Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, who launched a verbal tirade at both on-field umpires after failing with a referral against Pietersen during the afternoon session.
The England batsman was just one short of his 50 when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin convinced his team-mates to review Aleem Dar's not-out decision off the bowling of Ryan Harris.
No simulated evidence emerged to support Australia's review, and the initial verdict was duly confirmed. Siddle, who himself talked to umpire Dar alongside his skipper, refused to be drawn on the incident.
"We can't really talk too much about it at this stage. Obviously the ICC will take a look at it and the umpires are in discussion at the moment, so we just have to wait and see what comes of it," he said.