Recent form was the perfect pointer to how the opening day unfolded of Nottinghamshire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Essex at Trent Bridge.
Winless – and bottom of the table – Notts were bundled out for only 213 in 69.1 overs against a side that are playing with the momentum that sped them to the Division One title in 2017.
Essex, second in the standings, will expect to secure a substantial first innings advantage, reached the close on 72 for the loss of Alastair Cook, a deficit of only 141.
The Essex attack shared the wickets around during the first two sessions, with Peter Siddle, Jamie Porter and Aaron Beard picking up three wickets apiece.
Without a red-ball victory in more than 12 months – since beating Essex at Chelmsford last June - Notts shuffled their top order around, with captain Steven Mullaney making 74 after restoring himself to the top of the order after winning the toss.
Ben Duckett’s season has been feast or famine so far and the left-hander was dismissed in the third over of the day for only eight.
He stroked a couple of elegant cover drives before pushing firmly at a Porter delivery and deflected the ball into the waiting hands of Alastair Cook at first slip.
Mullaney greeted the introduction of Simon Harmer by launching the spinner over deep midwicket for six and two overs later he gave the same treatment to a short-pitched ball from the returning Porter.
Nick Browne got a hand to a firm Mullaney slash at backward point but the right-hander offered little else in the way of encouragement as he advanced to a 73-ball 50 with his sixth four.
Beard, who took three for 62, ended a second-wicket partnership of 58 when Ben Slater, on 14, edged behind.
The seamer followed up that wicket with two more during the early stages of the afternoon, although both came from a touch of good fortune.
Within the space of four overs he changed the complexion of the day when getting both Chris Nash and Mullaney caught down the leg-side.
Nash went aggressively at a poorly-directed delivery and helped it through to Adam Wheater. His skipper also went to a ‘strangle’, to herald a collapse which saw Notts slip from 126 for two to 168 for eight.
Joe Clarke hadn’t reached 30 in any of his previous eight innings and his barren streak continued when he was pinned lbw by Siddle for 15.
Porter, three for 49, picked up two lbw decisions, removing debutant Ravi Ashwin for five and Luke Fletcher for a single.
In between, Simon Harmer had struck for the first time, bowling Tom Moores with a full-pitched delivery, for a duck.
Siddle, three for 38, finished off the innings with the wickets of Samit Patel, who played nicely for 39, and Jake Ball for one – also, ironically, caught tickling to leg.
Stuart Broad remained undefeated on 19 but gave his team-mates an early boost with the ball, by removing Cook cheaply.
Sir Alastair has an indifferent record in first class matches at Trent Bridge, with a top score of only 50 from 21 innings.
His 22nd knock produced only two runs before he snicked behind and had to walk off and past the joyous celebrations from his former England team-mate.
Nick Browne and Tom Westley consolidated, adding 62 together, the highest stand of the contest, so far.