Alastair Cook won the toss, but lost his wicket as Australia struck thrice in a lively opening session of the Ashes.
England crashed to 3-43 before reaching 3-88 at lunch on day one of the first Test in Cardiff, where Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon all snagged a wicket.
Starc could easily have had two after a scintillating fourth over.
Having trapped Ian Bell lbw for one with an inswinger, the left-armer found the edge of Joe Root’s bat with his next two deliveries.
The second flew to the right of Brad Haddin, who flung his body at the leather.
Haddin got one glove to the ball, but it popped out and Root reached the meal break unbeaten on 33 alongside Gary Ballance.
Michael Clarke admitted pre-match he also would have batted first, but it may well have been a good toss to lose given overcast skies.
The pitch offered limited assistance to Hazlewood and Starc, who were given the new ball ahead of Mitchell Johnson.
Yet the Dukes was swinging and Hazlewood created the initial breakthrough in his first over; a full ball that Adam Lyth looked to work through the leg side but instead edged to David Warner at gully to be out for six.
The sight of Warner diving forward to complete the sharp catch confirmed what little carry there was in the pitch.
Cook steadied, seeing off the new ball and Mitchell Johnson’s four-over spell.
The opener had a few nervous moments against Johnson, but looked somewhat comfortable before Lyon came on.
Australia had been spruiking Lyon’s potential to trouble England’s seven left-handers for some time.
Sure enough, Cook went 14 balls without scoring against the offspinner before loosely lashing at a delivery he could easily have paid more respect to.
Haddin snaffled the regulation edge, dismissing Cook for 20.
Bell went for one the following over, having briefly mulled a review that would have shown ‘umpire’s call’.
Root set about making Australia pay for the chance he was offered on zero, unleashing two sweetly-timed boundaries in Starc’s next over.
Rain delayed the start of play by 15 minutes and the umpires stayed on during a brief mid-session shower, but Sophia Gardens was soaked in sunshine when lunch was called.
Clarke regularly tinkered with his field and swung the bowling changes – nobody had a spell longer than four overs in the morning session.