A start delayed until 1pm and subsequent stoppages for bad light brought more frustration for the Championship leaders Durham at Chester-le-Street, where captain Phil Mustard found bowling bonus points hard to come by.
His only hope now is a deal with opposite number Jimmy Adams with the aim of forcing a result off near-doomed Hampshire.
Durham led by 23 points when they completed a double over Lancashire in June but it is now six – and they are idle next week, when second-placed Lancashire face Worcestershire at Blackpool, Somerset take on Nottinghamshire at Taunton and Warwickshire, who have two games in hand, meet Hampshire at Edgbaston.
Bonus points came slowly yesterday as Neil McKenzie made a patient 90 before being caught behind off Chris Rushworth and Dimitri Mascarenhas a rapid 50 before falling in similar fashion to Mitch Claydon.
Hampshire's hopes of signing James Foster from Essex for next season have been thwarted after the former England wicketkeeper agreed a three-year deal to stay at Chelmsford.
Kent may be worried by doubts over the future of captain Rob Key and batsmen Joe Denly and Sam Northeast, but the county in disarray at Canterbury yesterday appeared to be Surrey, who completed a shambolic performance by being bowled out for 104 in just 28.2 overs to lose by 265 runs inside three days.
In difficult conditions Key put uncertainty to one side, carrying his bat for a fine 110 from 230 all out, leaving Surrey with a putative target of 370. But after Darren Stevens increased his match haul to a career-best 11 for 70 – his first-ever 10-wicket tally – the off-spinner James Tredwell cleaned up the last five to leave Surrey not only humiliated but probably out of the Second Division promotion race.
Derbyshire, meanwhile, have put themselves firmly back in contention by taking 19 Gloucestershire wickets in a day at Derby, bowling them out for 220 and then 302 following on, to leave themselves a modest target of 110 to win and go third.
Meanwhile, leaders Northamptonshire fought back well at Lord's, where veteran Sri Lankan Chaminda Vaas took five for 76. Middlesex's 317, with a half-century from wicketkeeper Josh Simpson, looked challenging but a 158-run stand by Northants openers Stephen Peters and Mal Loye made it look a little less impressive.