England's seamers took two wickets apiece in the last two hours of play after England had squandered the advantage of winning the toss.
The roles were reversed from the 2005 opening day at Lord's. Then, Australia were treated to a passable bodyline impression from Steve Harmison before a glorious Glenn McGrath spell reduced England to 92 for seven.
Although the day fell three shy of the 17 scalps in London, the contest was just as absorbing.
Peter Siddle took five wickets as England were dismissed for 215, as the top six batsmen all scored double figures without reaching 50 for the third time in the last 18 months.
Siddle claimed a hat-trick on the first day of the 2010-11 series at the Gabba, and although James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc commenced Australia's attack, the veteran of the 2009 defeat proved to be the most destructive.
The majority of the dismissals owed to wretched batting rather than dexterous deliveries, though. Kevin Pietersen, short of first-class cricket in the spring and summer, looked particularly nervous prior to his exit from the crease shortly after lunch.
But opening seamers Finn and Anderson tore into Australia's top order, with the latter usurping Fred Trueman in the list of England's all-time Test wicket takers when he sensationally bowled out Michael Clarke for a duck.
Finn dismissed Shane Watson and Ed Cowan in successive deliveries and was a whisker away from becoming the first Englishman to claim a hat-trick in an Ashes series since Darren Gough in 1998.
With Stuart Broad receiving treatment for a shoulder injury, Alastair Cook was forced to persevere with Finn and Anderson, and the latter trapped Chris Rogers lbw to send the 35-year-old back to the pavilion.
Steve Smith, on 38, and Phil Hughes on seven runs, will take strike at the crease on Thursday morning.