James Anderson defied the lingering symptoms of the cold that laid him low on Thursday to wrap up his pre-Test work-out by taking five Nottinghamshire wickets, but it looked an effort in vain as Lancashire slid towards a fourth defeat in five matches in what is becoming a calamitous defence of their County Championship title.
Chasing 328 to win, the champions slumped to 39 for 5, their fate delayed by bad light. Nottinghamshire should not have long to wait for their third win of the season, which will be a timely distraction from reports linking their highly-regarded director of cricket, Mick Newell, with Bangladesh's search for a new coach.
Lancashire are in a sorry state that is beginning to resemble less a wobbly start than an unfolding crisis. Andre Adams, the magician in the Nottinghamshire attack, who has nine wickets in the match so far, made an interesting comment the other day when, sympathising with their struggle, he suggested that to defend a title you have to know how you won it. Perhaps that is Lancashire's problem.
Adams, who finished with 7 for 32 in the first innings, took two more last night, bowling Stephen Moore on the front foot with an inswinger before having Steven Croft caught behind.
It followed a significantly improved opening spell from Stuart Broad, another in pre-Test warm-up mode, who went for 60 runs from 14 wicketless overs in the first innings but struck with his second ball to have Paul Horton caught at second slip and then trapped Karl Brown squarely in front. Graeme Swann, the third of the Test regulars on duty, claimed the wicket of Ashwell Prince for the second time in the match.
Anderson probably bowled better in the first innings without success. Nottinghamshire agreed to allow him to bowl earlier than he might have when the umpires discovered they were wrong to waive the requirement for him to be on the field, sickness notwithstanding, on Thursday, and the balls with which he dismissed Michael Lumb and Chris Read might have made them regret it. But the visitors deserved their position of strength.