Surrey fell savagely upon an under-strength Yorkshire and the only remaining question seems to be whether this much-anticipated match will last long enough for tomorrow's ceremonial unveiling of the Dickie Bird Clock, part of the £10m regeneration of Headingley and, should you think otherwise, a perfectly orthodox timepiece.
Sent in by Mark Butcher, Yorkshire batted like a side that expected to be dismissed cheaply on a pitch that was never as lively as promised. Until mid-afternoon the bounce was reliable and the deviation off the seam measurable.
However, Alex Tudor's lift and pace and Martin Bicknell's movement will test batsmen on the best of surfaces and a glance at the top five in the champions' order, only two of whom are capped, showed inexperience. The sequence of events was predictable and an excellent Yorkshire crowd, in cool sunshine and under flawless blue sky, shut their eyes and thought of last September's champagne.
Matthew Wood, after five vigilant overs, attempted to drive Tudor and was taken brilliantly low at fourth slip by Bicknell, a stunning catch for a big man. Scott Richardson defended valiantly to make 16 in 25 overs before falling at slip.
The best innings came from Michael Lumb, who drove two well-timed straight boundaries until he was undone, trying to pull Tudor off a ball that lifted more steeply than expected, Alec Stewart strolling to square leg for the catch.
The key to any modern Yorkshire innings is held by Darren Lehmann who, as usual, began as if neither pitch nor bowling presented the slightest difficulty. Tellingly, his departure for 16, after a flick off his hips to square leg with the score at 74 in the 43rd over, was the only occasion that Surrey thought worthy of real celebration.
After that it was pretty much hit or miss. Gavin Hamilton, mysteriously preferred to Richard Dawson, confirmed his lack of form with a duck and new vice-captain Richard Blakey's effort to rally the tail ended with another slip catch.
Yorkshire needed 27 overs and three wickets to reach 50, yet Surrey did it without loss in six. Butcher, who remembers this ground, thrashed the bowling until Ryan Sidebottom applied a brake. Chris Silverwood has gone blond in the winter; much more of this and he will be white-haired by the autumn.
Steve Kirby was less expensive but no more penetrative coming downhill and by then Butcher and Ian Ward had had enough of picnicking and settled down to grind out a winning total, although Butcher will want to leave the Tykes shattered.
Hamilton did produce the best ball of the innings, a yorker that disconcerted Butcher in Surrey's only alarm so far but by the close of play both the Surrey captain and Ward had reached half-centuries.
As the disappointed crowd drifted away, it was worth asking how long it will be before the first 'Bring Back Byas' group is formed in Gomersal?Reuse content