Shane Watson broke down with a groin injury but not before England failed to accept Michael Clarke’s gift-wrapped Christmas present at the MCG.
As a world record cricket crowd of 91,092 flocked into the ground where Test cricket started, England found a level of application missing during the first three chapters of Australia’s 3-0 Ashes rout.
But England failed to make full use of Clarke’s decision to send them in first on a drop-in pitch that appears full of runs.
Confirming that the record crowd was present for the event rather than the performance, England managed to eke just 226 runs from 89 overs while losing six wickets.
Kevin Pietersen was welcomed to the middle with more boos than he had received throughout the series but responded with 67 not out in his most dogged innings of the summer.
Tim Bresnan was peppered with bouncers by the Australian pacemen but survived the ordeal for more than 20 minutes in remaining unbeaten on one.
Clarke’s reluctant decision to send England in appeared to backfire when his bowlers claimed just three wickets deep into the day and Watson was lost to yet another soft-tissue injury.
But Mitchell Johnson produced ferocious spell with the second new ball to run through England’s middle order after Harris had added Ian Bell to his earlier scalp of Joe Root.
Watson limped from the MCG after pulling up short in his run-up during his seventh over.
He suffered a similar injury during the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street during the winter but recovered well enough to bat again in that match and score a maiden Ashes century at The Oval a week later.
Cricket Australia officials were concerned that the injury was more severe this time even though
Watson returned to field at first slip for much of the last session.
Under Test playing conditions, Watson would not be able to bat at his customary No.3 position until he had spent as much time back on the field as he had spent off it.