AT 29-4 in the 12th over, things were not looking too rosy for Yorkshire on day one of the 256th Roses match.
Adam Lyth, Alex Lees, Gary Ballance and Jack Leaning were all back in the pavilion, and it was a familiar tale of Yorkshire’s top-order failing to deliver.
Equally familiar, however, was the way that the champions rallied to reach 301-9 at stumps.
The only difference this time was that they did it without Jonny Bairstow, who was away on England duty against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street.
Instead, on a day when 3,139 filled a sunlit Headingley, it was two England players past and present who helped lead the fightback as Yorkshire closed in much better shape than they had started the day.
Adil Rashid, who played in the recent World T20, top-scored with 88 from 170 balls with 11 fours, while former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan chipped in with 69 from 159 deliveries with 10 boundaries.
The sixth-wicket pair added 136 in 47 overs to frustrate a Lancashire team who failed to build on their promising platform, something that the leaders may come to regret.
One of cricket’s oldest adages is that you should never judge a pitch until both sides have batted, and it remains to be seen how effective Yorkshire’s score is.
However, after Lancashire exercised the right to bowl, the hosts received a tough examination early on, with the pitch offering just enough movement and bounce, and they have the advantage of runs on the board.
Lyth got a jaffa four balls in when Tom Bailey got one to bounce, leave him and take the edge, captain Steven Croft doing the rest behind the stumps after first-choice wicketkeeper Alex Davies had been ruled out with a knee injury.
There was perhaps not much Lyth could have done about it so early in his innings, but Lees would have been kicking himself when he fell for a duck to the ninth ball of the morning, pushing outside off stump at Kyle Jarvis and caught at third slip by Karl Brown.
Yorkshire fell to 14-3 to the final delivery of the sixth over when Ballance got one from Jarvis that shaped away a touch, the batsman edging to second slip where Tom Smith took a comfortable catch, moving to his right.
An identical fate met Leaning, who edged the same bowler to the same fielder after propping forward. Jarvis was excellent during an opening spell of 3-24 from nine overs, with Bailey no less impressive during a parsimonious opening burst of 1-17 from eight.
It could have been better for Lancashire as Andrew Gale and Rashid rode their luck at times during a fifth-wicket stand of 45 in 10 overs that helped the hosts steady the ship.
Things are never dull when Gale is facing the old enemy, and the Yorkshire captain’s innings was a lively affair before Neil Wagner trapped him lbw, playing across the line.
Rashid and Bresnan lifted Yorkshire to 94-5 at lunch and then batted throughout the afternoon to add 107 in 34 overs.
Both men looked to attack, Rashid playing with typically wristy flourish and Bresnan offering staunch support.
It was Bresnan’s first Championship appearance of the season after he suffered a calf injury in the Champion County match against MCC in Abu Dhabi in March, and Yorkshire have missed his contributions with the bat as much as the control that he gives with the ball.
A third Roses hundred looked on the cards for Rashid, but he fell with the total at 210 when he drove left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan to cover.
Liam Plunkett chipped to mid-on in the next over, giving Jarvis his fourth wicket, and Wagner had Bresnan caught behind to leave Yorkshire 226-8.
At that stage, there was a danger that Rashid and Bresnan’s hard work might go to waste, but Andrew Hodd – capped before the start of play – and Steve Patterson had other ideas, addeing 75 in 19 overs in an entertaining stand, ended in the final over when Hodd was caught around the corner for 40.
Patterson finished unbeaten on 41 from 66 balls with six fours and a six, continuing his excellent form with the bat this year.
Meanwhile, Yorkshire have announced that pace bowler Ryan Sidebottom will be out for another four-to-six weeks with a left ankle injury sustained during the Championship game at Warwickshire in late April.
In a statement, the club said “the injury was seemingly sustained on day one of the match following an accident in the dressing room during a rain break”, a problem that Sidebottom later exacerbated when bowling.
Yorkshire did not say what the accident was, although it is understood that the players were having an impromptu game of football in the dressing room.
Sidebottom has an incomplete fracture of the fibula and he will be in an orthopaedic boot for another fortnight.