England 416 and 109 for 4 (Hales 41*, Finn 6*) lead Sri Lanka 288 (Silva 79, Woakes 3-31) by 237 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Nearly 10 years have slipped by while Alastair Cook has been a permanent fixture at the top of England's order in home Tests. His absence at Lord's was only temporary, the result of a hospital scan on a bruised knee, but in that time England had an unnerving vision of the future as Sri Lanka made them sweat in the final Investec Test.
Four down by the close of the third day, England still held a healthy lead of 237, with six wickets - Cook included - and remain overwhelming favourites to win but shorn of his presence for the first time on these shores since Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss opened against Pakistan at The Oval in 2006, their shortcomings were stripped bare.
There was another failure for Nick Compton, moved up from No. 3 to fill an emergency opener's role, that will surely end the second phase of his Test career, his footwork again leaden as Shaminda Eranga brought one down the slope to have him caught at the wicket. There was a first-ball duck, too, for James Vince, who has failed to secure a maiden Test half-century in this series, and who naively left a delivery from Nuwan Pradeep which skipped back down the hill to hit his off stump. So far he has been a player of style rather than substance.
"No thoughts of retirement for a while yet" will be England's exhortation to Cook, a CBE freshly to his name in the Queen's Birthday Honours. With Pakistan lying in wait later this summer, there will be relief that the x-ray - the result of a blow from Kusal Perera while fielding at silly point - revealed nothing sinister.
Pradeep's zestful display brought him three wickets in all, a shooter accounting for Joe Root, who risked ricking his back on his return to the pavilion as he turned round frequently to watch his demise on the big screen, and a hack across the line by Jonny Bairstow that was a throwback to earlier times. Alex Hales, 41 not out, stood firm but Pradeep would have removed him as well, on 19, if Dimuth Karunaratne had clung to a low chance to his left at second slip and again on 39, shortly before the close, when he glanced Pradeep down the leg side only for Dinesh Chandimal to grass the chance.
A Lord's Test Saturday had swung loyally towards England in the morning, as a place of such ingrained traditions must presumably feel obliged to do when they are Trooping the Colour a few miles down the road for the Queen's 90th birthday.
Sri Lanka's visions at start of play of conceding more than 400 in the first innings and then winning the Test, as they did at The Oval in their Muttiah Muralitharan-inspired 1998 victory, would have been encouraged by reaching the close on the second day 162 runs to the good and Karunaratne the only casualty.
But by lunch, they were obliterated: six down and still trailing by 198, Kusal Mendis, Kaushal Silva and Angelo Mathews all dispatched in the first 7.3 overs as England's pace attack regained the initiative.
Chris Woakes had been the most insistent of England's attack on the previous evening and that was enough for him to start the day alongside Stuart Broad. There was enough in the air to encourage the bowlers that it would be a more even contest and they pounded a good length - a fuller length than on the previous day - from the outset.
Woakes' first ball of the previous day had brought about the Bairstow howler - and more critical examination of his wicketkeeping role. This time Woakes enjoyed immediate success, winning an lbw as he rammed a delivery down the slope into Mendis' pads.
Silva failed to add to his overnight 79, his edge to Bairstow in Broad's third over of the morning extending a remarkable record in which he has been caught at the wicket in all nine of his Test innings in England. Repetition around off stump has rarely been more obviously rewarded.
England's energy also extended to Bairstow. When Mathews thick-edged Broad to third man, Hales and Root, giving chase, were shocked to find a red-headed retriever tearing past them and diving full-length in wicketkeeping pads to save the boundary. Such chases are part of Bairstow's make-up and his pleasure in mildly embarrassing two of his team-mates was evident.
Mathews' pugnacity was needed to restore Sri Lanka's ambition, but he was defeated by extra bounce from Woakes, going wide on the crease, and Root, quite close at second slip, held a good catch. It was a delivery that encapsulated Woakes' improvement, a bowler of good habits and decent action now capable of something a little more unsettling.
Chandimal was equally uncertain, beginning with an inside-edged four against Woakes and almost scooped up at second slip by Root when Anderson made an unaccustomed late arrival into the attack.
It was not long before Chandimal fell, too, lbw to a fullish delivery from Steven Finn and unsuccessfully reviewing in the hope that the ball might have faded down the slope past leg stump. Finn also looked more eager than on the previous day and the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne completed a satisfying England morning, a poor uppish-drive which gave Root another catch.
Root, England's stand-in captain, endured a merry stand of 71 in 17 overs, against old ball and new, by Sri Lanka's seventh-wicket pair of Perera and Rangana Herath. Perera, back in the Sri Lanka side after overturning drugs allegations, produced some typically emphatic blows and Herath offered good support, chancing his arm and indulging in some puffed-out cheeks fist-pumping with his partner with an air of mild relief.
Root's star fast bowlers were also having a wild mustang moment. Root wisely resisted a headstron g appeal from Broad to review a refused lbw appeal against Herath, and then was spoken to by the umpires regarding Anderson, who indulged in some behind-the-hands muttering at slip (always a sign of trouble afoot).
Around the time Cook collected his diagnosis, Sri Lanka's lower order crumbled. Broad caused Herath to chop on, Perera was caught behind off a bottom edge, attempting to pull, Suranga Lakmal edged Anderson low to second slip, and Woakes, who had followed his highest Test score with a stand-out bowling display, took his third wicket when Eranga edged the first ball of his spell to Vince at third slip.
When Anderson dismissed Perera the Anderson-Broad new-ball combination became the most prolific opening partnership in history, overhauling the 493 collected by Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and ahead of other notables on the list: Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie, and Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock.
Those wickets have come at five-runs more per wicket - roughly 26 to 21 - but they are all in the book, Anderson and Broad both stand in the top three in the ICC Test bowling rankings and how England will miss them when they are gone. Of Cook, the same was evidently true.