England's understudy pace attack grafted for their deserved wickets as the third Investec Test finally got under way on day three against West Indies at Edgbaston.
Following two washouts, Andrew Strauss unsurprisingly chose to bowl under cloudy skies and unleash Graham Onions (three wickets for 56 runs), Tim Bresnan (three for 74) and Steven Finn.
But thanks in part to faulty catching in the slips, plenty of runs edged between them too, and the doughty Marlon Samuels (76), England's rewards were hard-earned as the tourists closed what was effectively day one of three on 280 for eight.
Samuels' 114-ball stay contained 10 fours and a six and continued a rich vein of form which had already brought him successive scores of 31, 86, 117 and 76 not out.
England rested Stuart Broad, meaning both their first-choice new-ball bowlers were absent here after James Anderson was left out of a 12-man squad last weekend.
The Windies made four changes to the team which lost at Trent Bridge, to go 2-0 down with just this match to play, and crucially were minus lynchpin batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul because of a side strain.
But if that made them look more vulnerable than ever, they soon proved in no mood to play the pushovers as they got to within one run of something they had previously fallen well short of in this series - a 50 opening stand.
England's seamers operated mostly at a full length from the outset, preferring to seek out swing rather than bounce.
Adrian Barath had made just four when Onions, back in Test cricket for the first time since January 2010 after his career-threatening injury, should have been in the wickets column in just his second over.
Instead, Ian Bell - in at third slip for this match in place of Anderson - missed a straightforward chance.
Onions' hopes of his comeback wicket were duly raised and dashed again when Barath left another straight one and was hit on the pad. The lbw appeal was turned down by Tony Hill, and England lost a review too into the bargain.
Barath continued to ride his luck, but Kieran Powell's ran out at the start of Bresnan's second spell when he edged to second slip - where Graeme Swann just managed to cling on this time.
Barath, joined by debutant Assad Fudadin, greeted the introduction of Swann's off-spin with a flat-batted drive for six from the crease over long-on.
Finn had reason, straight after lunch, to rue Bell's frailties in the slips - Barath escaping again on 40.
But the second drop was not costly.
Barath soon went, and Onions at last had his 29th Test wicket, lbw after a failed review from the batsman of a delivery which simulation suggested would have hit the outside of leg-stump.
Darren Bravo went cheaply, and in puzzling circumstances, when he pushed a routine forward-defensive shot back into Finn's hands for caught-and-bowled.
Fudadin dug in but had just spent 28 balls over his 28th run when Bresnan decided it was time to test him out with the short ball, a change of tactic which worked almost immediately as the left-hander got in a tangle and looped an edge which Bell simply could not miss.
By then Samuels was well-established, for the fifth time in the series.
From his base deep in the crease, he was still well able to punish Bresnan when he over-pitched in search of swing. A fine spell from Onions gave him some discomfort, however, and culminated in the wicket of Narsingh Deonarine - edging to slip, where Strauss took a neat catch.
But before tea there came a six over wide long-on off Swann, followed by his sixth boundary next ball, to take Samuels to his fourth successive 50.
He looked in good shape to turn it into a second hundred of the series too, in a stand of 56 with Denesh Ramdin (60 not out), until Bresnan administered what looked a killer blow by having the Windies mainstay lbw pushing forward on off-stump in the last over with the old ball.
Bresnan was immediately relieved of his duties, after his successful two-over spell, to allow Finn and Onions to attack the tail.
The former had Darren Sammy dropped by Strauss on 14. But once again the missed slip chance was not significant, because the Windies captain had made just two more runs when he was dismissed in near action-reply.
Before stumps, there was time for Onions to have Sunil Narine chopping on and Ramdin to complete an increasingly assured 97-ball half-century.
Scoreboard: England v West Indies, Edgbaston
England Won Toss
West Indies First Innings Close
A B Barath lbw b Onions 41
K O A Powell c Swann b Bresnan 24
A B Fudadin c Bell b Bresnan 28
D M Bravo c & b Finn 6
M N Samuels lbw b Bresnan 76
N Deonarine c Strauss b Onions 7
D Ramdin not out 60
D J G Sammy c Strauss b Finn 16
S P Narine b Onions 11
R Rampaul not out 2
Extras b2 lb6 w1 9
Total 8 wkts (98 overs) 280
Fall: 1-49 2-90 3-99 4-128 5-152 6-208 7-241 8-267
To Bat: T L Best.
Bowling: Onions 24 7 56 3
Bresnan 26 8 74 3
Finn 22 6 65 2
Swann 21 5 61 0
Trott 5 1 16 0