At stumps on Saturday, the home side was 8-309 after winning the toss and electing to bat, with rookie WA batsman Luke Pomersbach providing a late flourish and unbeaten on 90, but the story of the first day was a much-improved showing from the English attack.
Little has gone right for the English since they arrived in Australia, but there were plenty of positives from their bowling performance, less than a week out from the third Test at the same venue.
Spinner Monty Panesar again impressed, seamers James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood were amongst the wickets and speedster Steve Harmison finally hit his straps as the English overcame some poor early fielding.
To cap an encouraging day for the English, wicketkeeper Chris Read took three catches in a polished performance, including one superb effort to remove WA opener Chris Rogers.
With so much speculation about his likely promotion at the expense of fellow left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, Panesar undoubtedly strengthened his claim for the Perth Test with a lively bowling display that could easily have netted more than one wicket and even managed a direct hit run out late in the day.
Having taken two of the only three wickets claimed by his side in the Lilac Hill match on Friday, Panesar bowled from both ends and was impressive every time he was called upon, finishing with 1-69 from 25 overs.
Panesar troubled all the batsmen and gained considerable turn at a venue not normally suitable for finger spinners.
A number of potential catches just eluded his close fieldsmen, while he had several strong appeals turned down.
With his Test hopes on the line, the pressure to perform showed when Panesar reacted angrily to a failed appeal against WA left-hander Marcus North.
Panesar was adamant he had North caught by a diving Andrew Strauss at first slip.
The left-arm spinner was down at the batter's end celebrating when he realised local umpire Bruce Bennett had turned the appeal down.
At the end of the over, he tore his jumper out of Bennett's hands, his annoyance obvious.
Two more vigorous appeals were turned down just before tea, before Panesar had Luke Ronchi, who had made 89 off 49 balls in the Lilac Hill match just 24 hours earlier, caught at slip by Andrew Strauss for just three.
Giles claimed 0-33 from eight overs.
Anderson boosted his chances of retaining his spot in the Test side with a fine display of fast swing bowling and picked up 3-47, while Mahmood was sharp and claimed 2-61.
The former swung the ball appreciably at times and also generated good pace, picking up the wickets of openers David Bandy and Chris Rogers, along with tailender Brett Dorey.
Under pressure after one wicket in the first two Tests, Harmison didn't enjoy any early luck, but bounced back late in the day to indicate his fortunes may finally have turned, despite returning modest figures of 1-99.
Harmison should have claimed the early scalp of Rogers for 12, but Ashley Giles dropped a sitter at second slip.
However, his third spell of the day, after tea, saw him bowl with renewed vigour with the wind at his back, claiming the wicket of new Australian squad member Adam Voges, trapped lbw, and troubling the WA batsmen with his pace and bounce.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan was included in the English team for the match and spent the entire day in the field, but Andrew Flintoff was rested.
Western Australia 309 for 8 (L Pomersbach 90 n o, Rogers 66, Shaun Marsh 59; Anderson 3 for 47, Mahmood 2 for 61, Monty Panesar 1 for 69) Vs England