Lancashire face a long and, from a spectator's point of view, quite possibly tedious battle to dig themselves out of the hole created by Northamptonshire's first-innings total.
Needing 330 to avoid the follow-on, the home side's travails this season continued when they lost two wickets in the gathering gloom last night. If their weakened line up escapes with a draw, it will be a victory of sorts.
After a generally dour but undeniably effective batting effort by Northamptonshire, it was not long before Lancashire were deeper in trouble.
Nathan Wood, in only his second Championship match, never looked comfortable against the opening attack of Paul Taylor and Tony Penberthy. After a handful of streaky shots that brought him seven runs, the diminutive Wood edged one from Penberthy and David Ripley took a good catch.
Without most of his usual senior colleagues but no stranger to the long haul, Jason Gallian seemed to have steadied the ship when John Emburey had him caught off bat and pad for 49. It could have got worse for Lancashire, but Neil Fairbrother survived a dart at Emburey.
Earlier, Lancashire had laboured to remove Northamptonshire. The veteran all-rounder Kevin Curran had to sweat for the eight runs he needed for his first century of the season. After a hold-up on 99, he made 108 before being dismissed, as had David Capel three overs previously, by a useful spell from Glen Chapple.
Lancashire's problems did not end with his dismissal, however. After Jeremy Snape had gone cheaply, Tim Walton and Ripley amassed 115 for the eighth wicket. Walton hit Gary Keedy for three sixes and was going for a fourth off the same bowler when he was caught on the boundary for 60.
Even so, Ripley pressed on to 79. By then, Lancashire had been in the field for almost 10 and a quarter hours and every minute of it showed. Whether Northamptonshire have enfeebled them sufficiently to bowl them out twice in the remaining two days is another question.