Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow fell in quick succession to the second new ball to hand Australia the initiative on day one of the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney.
England captain Root was well on his way to posting his first century of the series before he clipped a Mitchell Starc delivery to square leg in the penultimate over of the day to be dismissed for 83.
Bairstow edged Josh Hazlewood to Tim Paine in the very next over as the tourists reached stumps on 233-5 after deciding to bat first under overcast skies on a green-tinged surface at the SCG.
Earlier, the tourists slipped from 88-1 to 95-3 in an extended post-lunch session after the entire morning session was washed out due to rain.
Mark Stoneman and James Vince both made starts but fell to Pat Cummins for 24 and 25, respectively, while Alastair Cook was beaten for pace by a full Hazlewood delivery to be adjudged lbw for 39.
That brought Root and Dawid Malan together, with the pair putting on a 133-run partnership to put the tourists on the ascendancy before the England skipper's late dismissal.
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that the loss of the two late wickets was a "massive disappointment" for the tourists.
"It's a very quiet dressing room tonight, because people know how hard Dawid and Rooty worked to get themselves into that position," he told BBC Test Match Special.
"To see Rooty get out the way he did, he's incredibly disappointed and frustrated.
"He knows he wants to convert more 50s into 100s. It's not something any coach needs to sit him down and say ,'Do you realise you need to convert more fifties?'"
England gave a Test debut to leg spinner Mason Crane in the absence of Chris Woakes, who is sidelined due to a side strain, while Moeen Ali kept his place in the side despite his poor form with both bat and ball.
Malan, who ended the day unbeaten on 55 off 160 balls, told ABC: "I feel like I've gutsed out performances in tough times. A couple of my fifties, I've really had to work hard for.
"I feel like I've found a method that I feel comfortable in and I've got belief that I can play Test cricket. If you don't back yourself, it's pretty pointless walking out."
Australia have already regained the Ashes and hold an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.