Australia remain on track for a resounding victory in the fifth Ashes Test but rain ruined their hopes of quickly wrapping up things on day four.
England resumed at 6-203 on Sunday, needing a further 129 runs to make the tourists bat again at The Oval.
They were 8-258 at 12.16pm local time when the covers came on.
Lunch was called at 12.30pm and showers are not expected to clear until the afternoon.
Nonetheless the two wickets are likely to fall before stumps, ending Michael Clarke’s career and one of the strangest Ashes series in history.
Clarke couldn’t sign off in style with the bat – he scored 15 in a total of 481 that was dominated by Steve Smith, his successor as skipper.
None of the one-sided Tests have gone the distance – with a total of 18 days of play throughout the series – no five-Test series between the two nations has been over so quickly.
It could have been even shorter – Australia were lucky to take the third and fourth Tests to a third day after embarrassing collapses.
Locals hoping for a rearguard to remember were let down by Jos Buttler and nightwatchman Mark Wood.
Clarke, given another standing ovation when he led the side onto the field, handed the second new ball to Peter Siddle ahead of Mitchell Starc.
It paid big dividends.
Siddle, recalled after almost nine months in the Test wilderness, started with his 11th maiden and struck in the fifth over of the fourth day.
Clarke had a hand in the lbw dismissal of Wood, successfully reviewing Kumar Dharmasena’s not-out verdict.
Siddle’s immaculate control made him Australia’s standout bowler, the Victorian boasting figures of 2-25 from 22 overs when the players went off.
Allrounder Mitch Marsh came into the attack before Starc in another surprising but productive move from Clarke.
Marsh removed Buttler in his second over of the day, the keeper spooning a low catch to Starc at mid-off.
Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad had a few nervy moments but survived 10 overs.