Spinner Graeme Swann provided England's main threat at Old Trafford as Australia piled up 527-7 declared in their first innings.
With the seamers toiling in hot conditions on a true pitch, Swann had to perform the dual role of stock bowler and main attacking weapon.
He is one of the few off-spinners in world cricket capable of the task and again proved his worth to finish with figures of 5-159 from 43 overs - his 17th five-wicket haul in 55 Tests.
On day two, he added the wickets of Steve Smith, David Warner and Peter Siddle to his two from the previous day, Chris Rogers and Usman Khawaja.
Smith was denied a maiden Test hundred when he miscued a heave into the leg side, Warner was caught by Jonathan Trott at slip via Matt Prior's thigh and Peter Siddle bowled aiming at midwicket.
Michael Clarke was the only Australian not to fall to Swann on day two, playing a short ball from Stuart Broad onto his stumps to depart for 187.
That gave Broad his 200th Test wicket but even such a milestone moment did little to disguise England's reliance on Swann on the day.
'Very flat pitch'
Swann said: "It was tough. It's a very flat pitch and what spin there is, it tends to come when the ball's hardest so come the morning the ball will be softer.
"It's a very good pitch. Where you might get a bit more movement is the foot-holes - obviously with (Australian left-arm seamer) Mitchell Starc's to the right-hander. I think the main part of the pitch will stay true for five days, though.
"There's certainly more bounce than at Trent Bridge. Lord's was a good wicket to bowl on. Sometimes you get lucky with a wicket but you like to think you apply the pressure to get those wickets."