Steve Smith stole the show at Old Trafford, scoring a double century as Australia piled on the runs.
The Aussies racked up 8/497 declared and England will enter day three 474 runs behind.
Smith celebrates stunning feat
Steve Smith, you are a freak.
That was the sentiment running through the head of everyone who witnessed the Aussie star write the latest chapter in his extraordinary career that has fans rightly anointing him the best batsman the world has seen since Don Bradman.
Smith maintained his complete and utter dominance of England, scoring a mesmerising double century on day two of the fourth Ashes Test in Manchester. He was finally dismissed for 211 out of Australia's 8/497 declared, having registered the third double ton of his Test career – all of which have come against England.
The stunning innings was the third time Smith has reached triple figures in just four visits to the crease this series as England suffered through a disastrous day, going to stumps at 1/23, still a whopping 474 runs behind the tourists.
Smith scored twin tons in the first Test at Edgbaston and backed that up with 92 in the second Test at Lord's before he was concussed by a Jofra Archer bouncer that ruled him out of the third match of the series.
There were question marks about whether Smith would be the same player when he fronted up to Archer's searing pace for the first time since that frightening blow to the neck but the 30-year-old answered them in the most emphatic fashion possible.
The right-hander spanked 24 fours and two sixes en route to his miraculous milestone as England was completely clueless about how to get him out. They tried everything, bowling from both sides of the wicket and bowling full and short but nothing worked.
Smith toyed with his opponents, moving around the crease to hit the ball wherever he pleased. He was always one step ahead of England captain Joe Root, who's been at a loss over how to stop the jaw-dropping run machine since that first innings in Birmingham.
Unconventional as ever, Smith carved full balls through the covers off the back foot and somehow turned balls travelling well outside off stump into gaps on the leg side. It was fitting he reached both his 100 and 200 by crabbing across his crease and doing just that, using his elastic wrists to manipulate the ball to square leg.
Smith was out of the game for 12 months because of his ball tampering ban but any fears he may not return the same player he was have been well and truly trampled. In four innings this series he's scored 589 runs – making him the leading Test runscorer in the world in 2019 despite giving everyone else a seven-month headstart.
Day two spiralled out of control for England after a promising start. Smith looked shaky early in the morning and Travis Head added just one to his overnight tally before he was trapped LBW by Stuart Broad for 19.
Matthew Wade had a brain explosion on 16, hitting Jack Leach straight up in the air after attempting to launch him into the grandstand, and the hosts will have liked their chances of rolling through Australia's lower order.
But captain Tim Paine played his best knock of the series, scoring 58 as he registered his first half century in 11 Tests and silenced the critics questioning whether he deserves to be an automatic selection in the team given what was, before today, a lean run with the bat.
England was its own worst enemy as Paine and Smith batted together during the entirety of the middle session. Jason Roy dropped Paine at second slip in the first over after lunch and substitute fielder Sam Curran also spilled a catch when the skipper pulled Jofra Archer to mid-on.
Smith should have been out for 118 when he edged Leach to Ben Stokes at slip but replays showed the spinner overstepped the crease by a millimetre and the Aussie was called back to the middle because of the no-ball that proved so costly.
If Smith broke England's spirit then Mitchell Starc and Nathan broke its back with a late-order onslaught. Starc swatted seven fours and two sixes as he smashed an unbeaten 54 from 58 balls while Lyon threw the willow around, hitting four boundaries in his run-a-ball 26.
Paine finally declared three runs shy of 500, giving his bowlers 45 minutes at the England batsmen. It was a torrid time for openers Rory Burns and Joe Denly, who were both hit on the body by short balls from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood while Denly survived a hearty LBW shout on one.
Denly's grim stay at the crease ended on four when Wade took a magnificent catch at short leg, diving desperately to grab the ball just below the turf after it hit him and rebounded away to his right.
Steve Smith defied England's bowlers and the wild Manchester weather to once again rescue Australia, this time in the fourth Ashes Test.
On a miserable opening day to the match in the north of England, where ferocious winds and rain that came in sideways played havoc by allowing only 44 overs to be bowled, Smith was a class above as he and Marnus Labuschagne dug the Aussies out of a hole created by their misfiring top order.
At stumps on the heavily interrupted day, Australia were at 170-3.
David Warner was out for a second-ball duck in the first over, caught behind of the bowling of Stuart Broad, and when his opening partner Marcus Harris was LBW for 13 the tourists were 28-2 in the opening session.
Australia's highest opening partnership of the series has been 13 so the men below are used to coming in early and fortunately for the Aussies Smith and Labuschagne – the batsmen in form – were up to the task.
Returning to the team after missing the third Test in Leeds with concussion, Smith continued his stunning run feast. He piled on two centuries at Edgbaston and 92 at Lord's to create history by becoming the first player to ever score seven consecutive Ashes half-centuries, and he broke his own record at Old Trafford by notching fifty number eight on the trot.