The NSW Blues will be chasing quick wickets on day three with Victoria 2/205 at stumps on day two, trailing NSW’s first innings total by 89 runs.
Spinner Stephen O’Keefe and quick Sean Abbott were the wicket takers for the Blues, O’Keefe trapping Marcus Harris LBW for 23 and Abbott snaring Nic Maddinson caught by Nick Bertus just before tea for 59.
Will Pucovski (62 not out) and Peter Handscomb (44 not out) are the unbeaten batsmen overnight.
Earlier, half-centuries to Abbott and Blues captain Peter Nevill helped the Blues to a first-innings total of 294, that appeared unlikely after they struck early trouble.
Having been sent in by Handscomb on Friday, the visitors slumped to 5-114 but Abbott and Nevill combined to guide their side to 6-223 at stumps on day one.
Their seventh-wicket partnership of 93 runs ended when James Pattinson removed Abbott for 54, with Nevill departing for 50 in the next over.
On a recast MCG wicket that's showing more signs of life than it has in recent times, Peter Siddle and Pattinson were the pick of the Victorian bowlers.
Siddle finished with figures of 3-52 from 26 overs, including seven maidens, and Pattinson 3-62 from 28, including six maidens.
NSW opener Nick Larkin (50 from 116 balls) played an important innings after opening partner Daniel Hughes (1) and No.4 Moises Henriques (0) fell cheaply.
Australian T20 skipper Aaron Finch was subbed out of the match with a concussion suffered during Saturday's opening session, and has been replaced by Travis Dean.
He was struck on the helmet while fielding at short leg when O'Keefe played a shot off his pads off the bowling of Test paceman Pattinson.