Haseeb Hameed and Joe Root's admirable resistance appeared to merely delay the inevitable as England stayed on course for defeat on the fourth afternoon of the third Test.
Root's exemplary 78 in Mohali preceded the equally skilful defiance of Hameed (59 not out), who made no apparent compromise to a suspected broken left little finger which may well put the rest of his tour of India in jeopardy. The 19-year-old ground out a mere 17 from his first 110 balls yet then passed his half-century in only another 37.
Hameed took his cue to up the ante after Mohammad Shami bounced out Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid with the second new ball, leaving him with only James Anderson in a last-wicket stand of 41 as England's 236 all out set their hosts 103 to wrap up victory and take an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
England resumed on 78 for four, still 56 runs behind, and obviously short of resources to scramble a total that might seriously extend India.
Root's departure just before lunch, to a memorable one-handed catch by Ajinkya Rahane away to his left at slip from an edged drive at Ravindra Jadeja, signalled the beginning of the end.
England had lost their nightwatchman Gareth Batty to his second ball of the day, pushing forward and missing an arm ball from Jadeja to be lbw for a duck - and then Jos Buttler's brief counter-attack ended when he went up the pitch to Jayant Yadav but dragged his big hit straight into the hands of deep midwicket.
Hameed, unable to open the previous evening because of the injury he first suffered in the second-Test defeat in Vizag before being hit again in the first innings here, came in at number eight to join Root.
The Roses alliance appeared to represent England's last realistic chance of a great escape, with Root completing a determined and flawless 147-ball half-century when he clipped Jadeja past midwicket for just his third boundary.
Hameed, showing no obvious signs of pain despite having had an x-ray the previous evening, was soon predictably tested by the short ball as Virat Kohli summoned Shami.
The teenage Lancastrian passed that test, however - and having got off the mark with a pushed single from the 19th ball he faced, he survived one scare on six when his thick edge to only the second ball bowled by Ravi Ashwin clattered in and out of Parthiv Patel's gloves.
It would have been a very good catch, from a hefty deflection, and all indications were that far easier opportunities would be in store for India to wrap up victory.
So it proved once Shami had the new ball in his hands again, breaking an eighth-wicket stand of 43 when - one ball after hitting Woakes on the helmet with a bouncer which dislodged the stemguard - he went short again and induced a mishook which looped to the wicketkeeper.
In the same over, Rashid came and went for a duck - hooking this time to long-leg - and the spirited 10th-wicket stand eventually ended when Anderson was run out by a whisker trying to scramble a second run for his partner into the leg-side deep.
England's defeat therefore still appeared a formality - after which they must contemplate during the short break to the fourth Test in Mumbai how they might yet somehow be able to battle back to earn a highly unlikely 2-2 draw.
India have announced that all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be out for a minimum six weeks with a hairline fracture of his bowling shoulder, and may therefore miss the limited-overs series against England after Christmas.