Lancashire's title ambitions look a little less convincing after what in the end was a fairly miserable attempt here to pursue the win that would have taken them to the top of the First Division table.
To chase down 258 – some 25 more runs than the highest of the previous three innings – would have needed Glen Chapple's side to play particularly well and a narrow defeat would have been no disgrace. But the margin in the end was anything but as seamers Darren Pattinson and Andre Adams cut a swathe through the home side's batting.
Coach Peter Moores, who knows a thing or two about winning titles from his pre-England days with Sussex, was keenly aware that an opportunity had been missed, particularly since Nottinghamshire had been 27 for 5 on the opening day. Lancashire will begin the next round of matches only two points behind leaders Durham. With five County Championship fixtures to go they could have been healthily in front.
"It is disappointing," Moores said. "We never really got that close. Notts bowled very well and we were always under pressure. Adams was probably the pick of the bowlers on both sides.
"At 27 for 5 on the first morning the game was obviously with us but, credit to them, they just played a little bit better. There were a couple of periods where our bowlers leaked a few runs and we did not get any substantial partnerships with the bat. But you have to be able to take a loss."
Lancashire will not wait long for a chance to bounce back, returning to Liverpool for a four-day match with third-placed Warwickshire on a ground that usually produces a positive result, although they need to see some substance return to their batting. Between them they have made only four centuries this summer, compared with 16 by Durham.
If this result can encourage Lancashire it is in witnessing Notts – next up for Durham – looking a little more like their old selves in their first Championship win since April, particularly in the form of Adams, whose wickets were the single largest factor in winning the title last year. The 36-year-old New Zealander bowled superbly here, whether he was drawing batsmen into injudicious drives or, as Paul Horton found to his cost, persuading them to leave balls that swung back late. He had 10 wickets in the match – four yesterday – and Pattinson, 5 for 44 in the second innings and who has struggled for fitness, looked in decent order, too.
The loss of Alex Hales and Samit Patel to England Lions duty next week comes at an untimely moment for Notts. They may be tempted to retain Graeme White, who was picked as second spinner here, did not bowl a ball in the match, yet made a second-innings half-century that arguably won the game.