Wahab Riaz was the architect of England’s demise as he produced a tireless nine-over spell at the start of the day which prompted a collapse that saw Alastair Cook’s side lose their final seven wickets for 36 runs and, most significantly, concede a 136-run first-innings lead.
Pakistan had extended that advantage to 358 runs by stumps – the score 222 for three – thanks to the wily contributions of Mohammad Hafeez, Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq.
All three passed half-centuries, Younus and Misbah both unbeaten, to cement Pakistan’s now considerable advantage after James Anderson and Mark Wood struck early to leave them 16 for two.
Those quick strikes were, however, a rare bright spot on a seemingly match-defining day.
England had started it knowing that the first session would likely be pivotal in the result, but they were unable to resist the skill and stamina of Wahab at one end and the leg-spinning guile of Yasir Shah at the other.
Wahab and Yasir bowled unchanged for the first 90 minutes of the day as they set about taking control of the match.
Wahab did the initial damage – on the way to his best figures since his Test debut against England in 2010 – and his first wicket of the day prevented Joe Root from reaching his first century in Asia.
Root chased a fuller ball angled across him by the left-armer and nicked behind to Sarfraz Ahmed.
That was one of four catches in the session for the wicketkeeper, who also spilled a chance from Jonny Bairstow, but that did not prove costly as Wahab got to work.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler both fell cheaply edging Wahab behind in the sixth and seventh overs of his spell.
At one stage his figures in his initial burst was 7-5-6-3 and when he did finally tire Yasir took up the baton.
The leg-spinner removed Bairstow, for a battling 46, and Adil Rashid in the same over before Wood was caught at slip.
Wood’s dismissal was only confirmed after two reviews, with the tailender sending the decision back upstairs after umpire Paul Reiffel had looked to check for a bump ball.
The third umpire, who had earlier reprieved Bairstow following a low claimed catch, did not see enough evidence to suggest Wood had not hit the ball.
Anderson was the last man to fall, when Imran Khan got in on the act, as shellshocked England took lunch 136 runs behind.
If inspiration was needed Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, looked to provide it as he immediately nicked off Shan Masood in a miserly new-ball spell.
Wood then bowled Shoaib Malik and captain Cook looked to ring the bowling changes for more breakthroughs.
He used seven bowlers inside the first 19 overs, but everything he tried was roadblocked by the veteran talents of Hafeez and Younus as they set about a 67-run stand to settle Pakistani nerves.
Wood returned to the attack to get Hafeez, the ball after reaching his half-century, with Root holding on at slip.
But just as in the first innings Misbah and Younus dried up England’s progress with an unbroken 139-run stand.
Younus went past 9,000 Test runs in the process, becoming the first Pakistan player to do so, while their stand also took England’s deficit beyond anything they have ever chased in the fourth innings.
Stokes almost broke the partnership late on, during a typically hard-edged spell, when Misbah edged between keeper and slip and England will know taking such chances early tomorrow will be vital if they are to have any chance of pulling off a memorable result.