An Australian fightback on the fourth evening jolted England, who had earlier reduced their opponents to 128 for five.
An unbeaten hundred from Michael Clarke and 80 not out from Brad Haddin sent Australia into the fifth morning on 313 for five, leaving them with 209 runs to get to seal a world-record chase.
“I am English,” said Swann. “We get nervous about anything: your football team can be 4-0 up at half-time and you daren’t watch the second half.
“It will be a great day’s cricket, it wouldn’t be the Ashes if it wasn’t like that, and I am glad these first two Test matches are living up to 2005 because the worst thing for me would be to play in my first Ashes series and it be a load of rubbish.
“For Australia to win this game they will have to break a world record – that’s a very tough ask.
“They are in a much better position than they could have been but with a new ball and everyone fit and firing we have a chance for wickets because the first session is when they tend to tumble.”
England have high-profile injuries to pace bowler Andrew Flintoff and star batsman Kevin Pietersen while Graham Onions has also experienced discomfort in his elbow, although he is expected to be fit to bowl.
If Australia were aggrieved at their lot with three of their dismissals – Simon Katich was dismissed off a no-ball, television replays cast doubt on the validity of Andrew Strauss’ low catch to dismiss Phillip Hughes and Michael Hussey appeared to miss the ball completely as it spun and went to slip off Swann – coach Tim Nielsen refused to dwell on it.
“We can’t do anything about that,” he said. “We knew at times things would go our way and things wouldn’t whether it would be umpiring decisions or weather or how we were playing.”
Australia will have to break new ground to take a shock lead in the series with the current highest successful chase in Test cricket being the 418 West Indies registered to beat Australia in 2002-03.
“At the moment we’re feeling pretty good about the position we’re in knowing that if we play as well as we know we can, we’ve got a real chance of winning the Test match,” insisted Nielsen. “We’ve never talked about saving this Test match.
“There’s a feeling of excitement and opportunity.”