England's understudy pace attack could muster just one West Indies wicket before lunch at Edgbaston as the third Investec Test finally got under way on the third morning.
Following two successive washouts, England captain Andrew Strauss unsurprisingly chose to bowl under cloudy skies - allowing Graham Onions, Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan to push for early gains.
England rested Stuart Broad, meaning both their first-choice new-ball bowlers were out of the equation here after James Anderson was left out of calculations when a 12-man squad was picked last weekend.
The West Indies 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 got to within one run of achieving what they had previously fallen well short of in this series - a 50 opening stand, on the way to 85 for one at lunch.
England's three seamers operated mostly at a full length, and Adrian Barath (40no) and Kieran Powell's readiness to leave deliveries very close to or on the line of the stumps was therefore fraught with danger - even on this pacy pitch.
Both openers accepted early opportunities to drive, but the left-hander twice missed inswingers from Bresnan which tailed in perilously close to off-stump.
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 the absence of Anderson - missed a straightforward chance.
A run of four maidens followed, including Finn's first over after replacing Onions and allowing the latter to switch to the city end.
Onions' hopes of a 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 as Hawkeye demonstrated the ball was only clipping the bails.
Barath continued to ride his luck, but 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 to the catch 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.
Otherwise, he and Fudadin dug in promisingly to close out the session.
Scoreboard: England v West Indies, Edgbaston
England Won Toss
West Indies First Innings Lunch
A B Barath not out 40
K O A Powell c Swann b Bresnan 24
A B Fudadin not out 15
Extras lb5 w1 6
Total 1 wkt (29 overs) 85
To Bat: D M Bravo, N Deonarine, M N Samuels, D Ramdin, D J G Sammy,
T L Best, R Rampaul, S P Narine.
Bowling: Onions 8 1 17 0
Bresnan 9 3 26 1
Finn 8 2 24 0
Swann 4 1 13 0
Umpires: H D P K Dharmasena and A L Hill