Ashton Agar provided fireworks in the morning and early afternoon session of day two, but Friday's player of the day at Trent Bridge did not make his case stand out until well into the evening.
England ended the day 261 runs ahead with four wickets in hand and while solid half-centuries from Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook contributed to that advantage, one man's efforts were by far the most valuable.
Ian Bell takes the honours on day three not just because his unbeaten score of 95 surpassed all others in England's second innings, but also due to the timing of his crucial knock.
Bell came to the crease with England on 121-3, and by the time he had seen Cook, Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior fall the total had reached 218, giving the hosts a lead of 153.
At that point it looked uncertain as to whether England could set their opponents a victory target in excess of 200 but Bell, in conjunction with Stuart Broad, put the home side in a dominant position by stumps.
Bell showcased his trademark fluid strokeplay, growing in stature as he passed the fifty mark and edged up towards three figures for the 18th time in his Test career.
He did not quite make it to a century but five more runs on Saturday morning would be just reward for his timely innings.
Bell played a number of late cuts through Australia's slip cordon in the evening, demonstrating how well he was seeing the ball by the end of the day.