Australia rue run outs despite taking lead against Australia
The 26-year-old, who had reached his half century off just 37 balls, could not resist a slash at a Tillakaratne Dilshan delivery only for the ball to balloon up into the air for Dhammika Prasad to take the catch backtracking at long-on.
Hughes had shown that for all the rebuilding of his technique he could still cut the ball like few other batsmen but on 87, traditionally considered the unlucky number for Australian batsmen, he tried another and was caught behind off Herath.
Hussey, who will retire from international cricket after this match, received a huge ovation from the crowd as he came out to bat and was welcomed to the crease by a guard of honour from the Sri Lankan players.
It was Clarke who caught the eye, however, and he punished anything loose from the Sri Lankan bowlers, most notably when he hit a towering six and a lofted four off Herath in consecutive balls just before tea.
The 31-year-old turned villain in the fourth over after the break, however, when he called for the single that resulted in Hussey's dismissal, and put a dent in the 37-year-old's previous average of 117.75 against Sri Lanka and 100 at the SCG.
Clarke, the most prolific batsman of last year, reached his 25th half century with a single through the covers but an over later his first innings of 2013 was ended when he misfired a sweep off Herath and Karunaratne took a good catch on the run.
Wade was dropped, then survived a Sri Lanka TV appeal for a catch which was ruled out for a no ball and finally forced to resort to the TV umpire himself to overturn a decision that he had been caught out -- all while he was on 22.
Nuwan Pradeep grabbed the final wicket of the day when he had Mitchell Johnson caught behind for 13 - only a second test wicket for the Sri Lankan seamer whose average had soared above 400 during the day's play.