England's Jonathan Trott overcame a painful blow to the knee to strike a brave century, as he and Matt Prior savaged Australia's attack to build a 346-run lead at stumps on the second day of the fourth Test on Monday.
Trott's unbeaten 141 propelled England to 444-5 at stumps and was completed after he was floored by a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that deflected off his bat and struck him on the side of his left knee when on 76.
The Cape Town-born batsman slumped to the ground in pain and lay prone for a number of minutes as he received medical attention.
He got to his feet gingerly, however, and eventually brought up his ton with a deft flick through midwicket that raced to the boundary under bright sunshine at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Trott held his helmet and bat aloft in celebration, savouring the applause from the crowd of more than 67,000, before embracing his batting partner Prior.
He and Prior's unbeaten 163-run stand took the wind out of Australia's sails after their pacemen had threatened to stall England's charge with three wickets in an incident-packed second session.
Prior joined in the celebrations by smacking a pull-shot off part-time legspinner Steve Smith to bring up his half-century before joining with Trott to belt Australia's bowlers to all corners of the ground in the final overs.
Wicketkeeper Prior was on 75 at stumps as the pair raised England's hopes of further tightening the noose around Australia's neck on day three with five wickets in hand.
Trott's century may also bring back grim memories for many of skipper Ricky Ponting's men, who watched the 29-year-old stroke a brilliant second innings 119 on his Test debut at the Oval last year to help England seal the Ashes in the fifth Test.
The current five-Test series is level at 1-1, but victory for holders England in Melbourne will seal the Ashes with a Test to spare and make Andrew Strauss's team the first to take the urn home in 24 years.
England will fancy themselves to build an insurmountable lead on day three and have more than two days to bowl out Australia, whose top order batsmen have failed throughout the series.
Australia's bowlers were handed the thankless task of protecting a paltry first innings total of 98 and were already under pressure after allowing Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook to romp to stumps an unbeaten opening partnership of 157.
Paceman Peter Siddle raised Australia's hopes of limiting the damage, however, removing the openers in quick succession in the morning and later trapping Kevin Pietersen lbw for his third wicket after lunch.
In between, Australia's desperation for wickets spilt over into frustration and the under-fire Ponting was involved in an ugly on-field tirade against umpire Aleem Dar over a video referral.
Paceman Ryan Harris had teased Pietersen's bat with a delivery that went through to wicketkeeper Haddin, whose wild appeal for caught behind was neither shared by his team mates nor endorsed by the umpire.
Haddin demanded a referral but the video review showed no evidence of a nick and the decision was upheld.
Ponting and Siddle remonstrated with Dar for more than a minute between overs, prompting jeers from the crowd.
Siddle's later breakthrough fired up his fellow seamers and Mitchell Johnson soon had the out-of-form Paul Collingwood's wicket when the middle order batsman slogged a harmless short ball to fine leg where Siddle rushed forward to take a sharp catch.
Johnson then captured the key wicket of Ian Bell for one, when he miscued a pull shot that Siddle again snaffled.
Johnson was denied a third wicket shortly before the tea break in unusual circumstances when his dismissal of Prior was over-ruled by the third umpire who spotted a no-ball that umpire Aleem Dar had missed.
Prior, who had trudged halfway off the ground, was called back to the crease before the video review showed Johnson's foot too far forward.