England struggled to 59 for three under heavy cloud cover as more forecast rain threatened after a delayed start to the third NatWest Series match against Australia at Edgbaston.
Openers Kevin Pietersen and Michael Carberry were both gone by the end of the sixth over, the latter in dispiriting circumstances after a mix-up over a sharp single.
England, trailing 1-0 with three to play, were put in with the floodlights in operation early for this day-night fixture - and by the 15-over mark had also lost Joe Root.
They got off to a sticky start, and one which again left Carberry still searching his first worthwhile score in this format.
He had pushed a single, and then seen Pietersen clip his first ball from Clint McKay wide of mid-on for four, when his senior partner then called him for a sharp run into the leg-side off his pad.
Carberry immediately declined. But when Pietersen kept running regardless, the aspiring opener doubtless felt he had little option but to set off belatedly and therefore effectively sacrifice his wicket as McKay picked up the ball in his follow-through and dislodged the bails with Carberry yards out.
Australia hatched a plan for number three Jonathan Trott, after Mitchell Johnson had bounced him out at Emirates Old Trafford three days ago.
This time, the left-armer and his captain Michael Clarke ostentatiously stationed a leg-slip. When Johnson, cranking the speed up to 90mph-plus again, then targeted one into Trott's ribs he got off the mark with an unconvincing glance for two just out of the catcher's clutches.
Johnson's pace proved too much for Pietersen, who added only two to his opening four in another 15 balls, before mis-pulling a simple catch straight to square-leg.
Trott needed to overturn one lbw decision against him on DRS and then survived when Australia called a review for another, both against Johnson with Michael Gough the umpire, on 13 and 20.
Technology first depicted the ball pitching outside leg and then clipping only the top of the stumps, deferring therefore to umpire's call.
There was no such refuge for Root when - having doubled the score with Trott - he poked a return catch straight back to Adam Voges, in the first over of his part-time left-arm spin.