MS Dhoni???s side, already 2-0 down in the four-Test series, trail by 326 runs after the hosts closed day four on 261-7 with Shaun Marsh unbeaten on 62.
Although 96 overs of play will be available on the final day, the best chase to win a Test at the MCG remains England???s 332 in 1928.
India began the day at the crease but conceded a first-innings deficit of 65 after adding only three runs to their overnight total of 462-8, Johnson (3-135) mopping up the tail quickly.
Umesh Yadav was the first to go when he edged the second ball of the day behind and Mohammed Shami fell in Johnson???s second over, caught in the slips for 12.
The wickets completed a slump in which India lost 7-56 following the 262-run fourth-wicket stand between Virat Kohli (169) and Ajinkya Rahane (147).
Australia???s openers increased their side???s cushion, David Warner striking 40 off 42 balls to dominate a 57-run stand with Chris Rogers before falling lbw to Ravichandran Ashwin.
Shane Watson (17) missed out but Rogers posted his fourth consecutive half-century of the series after enjoying a life on 33 when he was dropped in the slips by Shikhar Dhawan.
The spinner atoned for his error by bowling Rogers but not before the opener had more than doubled his score to 69 ??? Rogers the fourth to fall after captain Steve Smith was caught at leg-slip by Ajinkya Rahane off Umesh Yadav.
Althought debutant Joe Burns fell cheaply, caught behind off Ishant Sharma (2-49) for nine, India???s hopes of wrapping up an innings faltering at 176-5 were thwarted by Marsh, who struck eight fours and a six off 131 balls.
The 31-year-old found solid support in the shape of Brad Haddin (13 off 41) and Johnson (15 off 47) to extend Australia???s lead up to and past 300.