Australia's Test match credibility in the subcontinent will go on the line on Friday when they attempt to put a dent in Sri Lanka's first-innings total of 281 in the second Test in Galle.
The tourists will resume at 2-54 after losing David Warner to the last ball of day one.
Warner poked at a delivery from offspinner Dilruwan Perera and was caught at slip for 42 to ruin a bright opening to Australia's reply.
Australia are 1-0 down in the three-Test series and if they don't bank a competitive total in the first innings, the No.1-ranked Test team could be well on the way to losing the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy for the first time.
Making that task a treacherous one is the fact the pitch is already taking considerable turn just a week after the tourists' batting line-up were twice knocked over cheaply by Sri Lanka's spinners in a 106-run defeat in Kandy.
Usman Khawaja will resume on 11 not out and Steve Smith is set to join him at the crease.
Sri Lanka have already used five bowlers in the 13.3 overs they've completed, with the chief destroyer from the first Test Rangana Herath only bowling one over while Lakshan Sandakan, who made an impressive seven-wicket debut in Kandy, hasn't yet been called into the attack.
Joe Burns was caught at square-leg off the second ball of the innings when his attempted pull shot lobbed to Kusal Perera.
The loss of the openers in the last hour took the gloss off a top-notch bowling effort, with Mitchell Starc leading the way with 5-44.
He started and finished the wicket-taking, dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne with the first ball of the match and bowling Rangana Herath to end the innings midway through the third session.
In between, the pivotal wicket of Kandy hero Kusal Mendis brought up Starc's 100th Test wicket, becoming the fourth Australian left-arm paceman to reach the milestone.
"Not great to lose that last wicket," said Starc.
"It's still a pretty good batting wicket. There's nothing in it for the quicks. Obviously their spinners will try to get as much out of it as they can.
"It's nice that the Sri Lankans didn't get away from us. We bowled quite well to their whole line-up today. Overall I think it's a pretty even day."
FIRST-INNINGS SCORES IN SRI LANKA'S LAST FIVE TESTS AT GALLE
* October 2015 v West Indies, Sri Lanka won toss and batted - Sri Lanka 484
* August 2015 v India, Sri Lanka won toss and batted - Sri Lanka 183
* June 2015 v Pakistan, Pakistan won toss and bowled - Sri Lanka 300
* August 2014 v Pakistan, Pakistan won toss and batted - Pakistan 451
* July 2014 v South Africa, South Africa won toss and batted - South Africa 9(dec)-455