England off-spinner Dom Bess registered a five-wicket haul to dismantle Sri Lanka for just 135 as the tourists gained a dominant position on the opening day of the first Test.
Bess finished with brilliant figures of 5-30 while Stuart Broad claimed three wickets to thwart any attempt by Sri Lanka to post a challenging total.
In reply, England were troubled early with the loss of both openers for paltry scores but Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow steadied the ship with an unbroken 110-run stand for the third wicket.
By stumps, England were only eight runs away from ensuring a lead and extending their commanding grip on the game.
Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley were outfoxed by the wily left-arm spin of Lasith Embuldeniya but that proved to be the only moment of respite for Sri Lanka amid a dispiriting outing.
Root successfully reviewed an lbw call in his favour when he was batting on 20 and subsequently brought up his 50th fifty in 98 Test matches.
Bess was the undisputed hero of the day by acquiring his second five-wicket haul in his 11th Test appearance as the venue saw its lowest first-innings score.
Already reeling from a spate of injuries sustained during the South Africa tour, Sri Lanka suffered another blow as skipper Dimuth Karunaratne endured a fractured thumb ahead of the match.
Stand-in skipper Dinesh Chandimal looked solid for his brief stay at the crease alongside Angelo Mathews in a resilient 56-run partnership.
Broad was lethal with the new ball to send back the woefully out-of-form Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Mendis, who was dismissed for his fourth successive duck, to leave Sri Lanka in tatters from the get-go.
Bess was introduced into the attack in the 11th over and immediately got the prized scalp of Kusal Perera.
Mathews and Chandimal stood firm till lunch but Broad hastened Sri Lanka's demise by deceiving Mathews whereas Chandimal fell off the bowling of Jack Leach.
Mathews, who was not in action in the South Africa series due to a hamstring injury, went past the 6,000-run barrier in his Test career, cementing his status as one of Sri Lanka's modern-day greats.
His personal milestone was overshadowed by Bess' carnage as the Somerset star ran through Sri Lanka's reckless lower-order.