The threat of an historic England win had evaporated within the first 15 minutes of the final day's play, when both Chris Woakes and England's great hope Joe Root had been dismissed by Josh Hazlewood.
Australia has completed a 120-run victory over England in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide on a day five that failed to live up to its monumental promise.
Moeen Ali was then out leg before to Nathan Lyon attempting to sweep the ball across the line, before Mitchell Starc's pace accounted for Craig Overton and Stuart Broad.
Batting collapses have always been a hallmark of England woe in the Ashes and this series has been no different, with a solitary Australian century enough in both Brisbane and Adelaide.
England entered the final day 178 runs from victory with six wickets in hand after a dramatic momentum switch on Tuesday.
The third test starts December 14 in Perth, where England is in danger of surrendering the urn after winning the Ashes on home soil in 2015. "Fortunately, we're able to hang in there and get the result we were after".
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Skipper Root led a spirited English fightback and relished the challenge of a record run chase with a fighting unbeaten half-century. On a surface that had been good for batting all match, a ball finally stayed a touch low and kissed the toe of Root's bat on the way through to Tim Paine.
"I don't think there's real need to panic", he said.
Mitchell Starc later had the second new ball hooping, snaring three wickets as Australia turned the screws to spare Smith the ignominy of losing after his declaration on day two. We're still massively in the series.
Well, unfortunately for Joe Root and co., it was the latter that happened, as England collapsed on day five, leaving their chances of winning the Ashes hanging on by a thread. They added only 57 to their overnight total for the loss of all six of those wickets.
"Certainly, all of our players have competed at different times during, not just this Test match but the first as well, and showed they can bat".
Only one captain in the long history of test cricket had previously lost a test after opting not to enforce the follow-on and Smith was grateful to his bowlers for getting him out of a hole.