England capitulated again, with Brett Lee taking four wickets and Stuart Clark three to rush Australia to a victory by an innings and 99 runs Thursday and a 4-0 lead in the five-match Ashes series.
The Australians won the fourth test inside three days, shortening Shane Warne's final international match on his home turf at the Melbourne Cricket Ground by two days but giving the 144-test veteran a chance to retire on a 5-0 Ashes whitewash next week in Sydney.
"Five-nil is a real goal for us now. A whitewash against an excellent cricket side," Warne said. "If I can continue to bowl well and get a few wickets in Sydney, it'll be great."
The 37-year-old legspinner took 5-39 to restrict England to 159 in the first innings here after Andrew Flintoff won the toss and elected to bat. Warne trapped both Sajid Mahmood (0) and Steve Harmison (4) lbw to lift his career total to 706 test wickets as England was skittled for 161 in its second stand, when it needed 260 runs to make Australia bat again.
Lee returned 4-47, Clark had 3-30 and Warne, voted man-of-the-man and carried off on the shoulders of Matt Hayden and Andrew Symonds, returned 2-46 in the second innings
In between England's innings, Symonds and Hayden combined in a 279-run partnership that turned the match inexorably in Australia's favor.
The Queensland state teammates batted for most of the second day, joining when Australia had slumped to 84 for five and notching the second-highest sixth-wicket partnership in an Ashes test before Hayden was caught behind for 153.
Flintoff said that partnership took the match away from England.
"It's been a tough trip, another tough three days," he said. "I'm disappointed, upset ... the emotions are all negative, but as bad as I feel now, we've still got one game. We don't want to leave this country having been rolled over 5-0."
Ponting's team is bidding to become only the second _ and first since 1920-21 _ to sweep a five-match Ashes series.
Australia led the series 4-0 in 2003 but lost the fifth test in Sydney.
Ponting said England would be "pretty demoralized," but would be playing for pride in Sydney starting Jan. 2 and Australia would have to respond.
"England wouldn't be happy with their performance here, no doubt about that. When we are playing as well as we are and we're on a bit of a run then I'm sure all those little doubts they have in their mind after the first and second tests ... turn into big doubts. We've seen that through this game.
"The way Hayden and Symonds were able to play right through most of yesterday was obviously the defining moment in the game."
Symonds resumed Thursday with Australia at 372-7 and added only two to his overnight score before he was caught behind for 156, slashing at Harmison outside off stump.
Warne remained unbeaten on 40 when Mahmood (4-100) picked off tailenders Clark (8) and Glenn McGrath, who registered his 35th test duck, to finish off Australia's first innings at 419.
Wicketkeeper Chris Read gloved six catches in his first innings since being recalled at the expense of Geraint Jones.
Australia has won 11 consecutive tests _ and has won 15 and drawn one since its upset 2-1 series loss in England in 2005, when it surrendered the Ashes after a 16-year domination.
After firmly asserting its No 1 position, Australia will have only one more test match with Warne and McGrath, two of the three most successful bowlers in test history.
McGrath, the world's leading paceman, will retire from test cricket on his home ground in Sydney.
After taking three for 47 in the morning to slightly limit Australia's first-innings buffer, England made it to 41 without loss before the rot started.
Alastair Cook, lucky to survive an lbw appeal on eight, played a Clark ball onto his stumps on 20, sparking a mini collapse that cost England three wickets and netted eight runs.
Ian Bell made a tentative two in 20 minutes before McGrath trapped him lbw and the experiment to elevate Kevin Pietersen to No. 4 backfired as England slumped to 49-3 when Clark beat him for pace and cannoned one into his off stump.
Lee dismissed Paul Collingwood (25) before tea and returned in the over after the interval to have Andrew Strauss (31) caught behind with the total at 90.
Clark removed England's last recognized batsman when he had Flintoff adjudged lbw for 25 with the total at 108, leaving Read to bat with the tail.
Read remained unbeaten 26 in two hours, running out of partners when Matthew Hoggard fell to Lee at 161.
More than 244,000 people attended the match at the MCG, Warne's self-described "backyard," and local organizers were forced to refund 47,000 people who pre-purchased tickets for the fourth day.