England stood on the brink of a first Ashes series triumph in Australia for 24 years after reducing the hosts to 213 for seven in their second innings at stumps on the fourth day of the fifth Test on Thursday.
Dominant batting from the tourists saw them score a record 644 for a first-innings lead of 364 before James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett got the ball swinging in the afternoon to wreak havoc among the shell-shocked Australians.
Australia, batting to save themselves from the humiliation of a third innings defeat in the series, have Steve Smith (24) and Peter Siddle (17) at the crease but still trail by 151 runs.
England had already ensured they would retain the Ashes by taking a 2-1 lead in the series in Melbourne last week and just needed just a draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground to seal the series triumph.
Although fine bowling was responsible for most of the Australian wickets, the hosts contributed the first with the farcical run out of Shane Watson for 38.
Watson, who had already run out fellow openers Simon Katich and Phillip Hughes this series, was left stranded at the wrong end when Hughes declined a second run and Matt Prior, who earlier made a quickfire 118, removed the bails.
Hughes lasted a little longer before falling for 13 after getting an edge to a Bresnan delivery following a period of sustained pressure and Prior continued his good day by taking the catch.
The next two wickets to fall were also caught behind by Prior, Anderson getting his 22nd and 23rd victims of the series by tempting Usman Khawaja into a feint edge for 21 and snaring captain Michael Clarke for 41 with an outswinger.
Bresnan returned to have Mike Hussey caught in the gully by Pietersen for 12 before Tremlett got into his aggressive stride and threatened to finish the match by himself.
The tall seamer tempted Brad Haddin (30) to attempt a hook but instead he found a top edge that Prior claimed for his sixth catch of the match.
Mitchell Johnson, who went for 4-168 in England's innings, was next in but he lasted just one ball as Tremlett clean bowled him to move to set up a hat-trick delivery that Siddle blocked.
Scenting victory and with the Barmy Army in full voice, England claimed the extra half an hour they are allowed to try and force a result but Smith and Siddle held on to at least send the Test into the full five days.
England had added 156 runs to their overnight tally before the Australians finally winkled them out just after lunch, but not before they had bettered the previous record of 636-8 declared the 1928-29 tourists achieved at the same ground.
Prior helped himself to a century from just 109 balls and even the tail enders got into the act as Australia's bowlers laboured to little effect.
The 28-year-old clinched his fourth Test century with a confident drive through the covers for a boundary and let out a huge roar before racing over to acknowledge the England fans.
Bresnan (35) put on 102 for the eighth wicket with Prior, who made his 118 off 130 balls with 11 fours and one six before Ben Hilfenhaus had him out caught behind by Haddin.
Graeme Swann (36 not out) and Chris Tremlett took 20 runs off Johnson's 36th over and the English had a leisurely lunch before finally being dismissed when Hilfenhaus had Tremlett caught behind for 12.