James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England's experienced fast bowlers, took three wickets each to help dismiss South Africa for 151 after tea on Day 1 of the second Test at Old Trafford on Thursday.
It could have been a lot worse for the Proteas, who slumped to 92-7 after choosing to bat before pushing to a more respectable total thanks to Kagiso Rabada's 36. Rabada was the last man out, with the innings only lasting 53.2 overs.
The 40-year-old Anderson, playing on his home ground in Manchester, had figures of 3-32 to take his national-record haul of wickets to 661. Broad took 3-37.
It was a strong start by England, which is looking to respond to an innings defeat at Lord's last week in the first test of the three-match series.
The South Africans went with two spinners in Manchester, bringing in offspinner Simon Harmer for bowling allrounder Marco Jansen.
England's only change from Lord's saw Ollie Robinson replace fellow fast bowler Matt Potts after proving his fitness following a number of injury niggles.