England were unchanged from the side that won the second Test at Lord's by a mammoth 347 runs to give the Ashes-holders a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after star batsman Kevin Pietersen was passed fit following a calf strain.
Australia, who must win this match to have any chance of regaining the Ashes this series -- a 2-2 draw would see England retain the urn -- made three changes.
David Warner, who missed the first two Tests after being banned in the run-up to the Ashes for punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar following a Champions Trophy match in June, returned in place of fellow batsman Phil Hughes after making 193 for Australia A against South Africa A in Pretoria last week.
Warner, who has opened in Tests, was listed to come in at number six with Australia appearing to keep faith with the opening duo of Shane Watson and Chris Rogers.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc came in after James Pattinson suffered a tour ending back injury at Lord's and off-spinner Nathan Lyon replaced teenage slow left-armer Ashton Agar, who went wicketless in the second Test.
Australia all-rounder Steven Smith was passed fit following a back problem.
Despite Old Trafford's reputation for taking turn, both teams opted for just the one specialist spinner with Monty Panesar left out of England's XI from a 14-man squad.
Victory for England will see them retain the Ashes. They last won the first three Tests of an Ashes series in Australia in 1928/29.
Australia, following their 4-0 series defeat in India earlier this year, have lost six Tests in a row - their worst run of Test results since 1984.
They last lost seven successive Tests between 1885-88, a run that included the only time Australia have been whitewashed in the Ashes -- a 3-0 defeat in England in 1886.
This was the first Ashes Test staged at Old Trafford since 2005 with the ground having undergone a 45 million ($68 million) redevelopment which has included turning the square to face north-south instead of east-west.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wkt), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson
Australia: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (captain), Steven Smith, David Warner, Brad Haddin (wkt), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Tony Hill (NZL)
TV umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)