Imran Tahir, the well-travelled Pakistan leg-spinner, took eight wickets in an innings for the second time in his career but, after losing inside two days to bottom-of-the-table Kent last week, Durham had cause for satisfaction after scoring 379 against Warwickshire.
In a rejigged batting order, the recall of Mark Stoneman and Gordon Muchall paid off. Stoneman, dropped last season, registered his highest score (77) since his maiden century in 2007 as he and Muchall (60) put on 153 for the second wicket.
Tahir ended their progress by trapping Muchall leg before as he claimed three wickets in 15 balls, the second of which saw Stoneman stumped by Richard Johnson. The spinner then had Ian Blackwell caught at slip as Durham slumped from 157 for 1 to 172 for 4. Ben Stokes, recovered from the sprained ankle he suffered against Kent, was caught at deep mid-on, Dale Benkenstein went lbw and Scott Borthwick pulled his second ball straight to midwicket, all off Tahir.
However, Phil Mustard led a counter-attack, setting an aggressive pace in a stand of 95 in 28 overs with Liam Plunkett. Tahir bowled Plunkett and made Mustard his eighth victim, but not before the Durham captain had completed his hundred off 139 balls.
Steve Harmison is missing from the Durham attack with an ankle injury but Mitch Claydon struck before the close to dismiss Darren Maddy.
Nottinghamshire allowed Essex to recover from 118 for 5 to score 329 after being put in at Trent Bridge, where Ryan Sidebottom, one of England's Twenty20 world champions, managed only one wicket from 22 overs and Mark Pettini, the Essex captain, made 96. The home side then lost two wickets in eight overs in reply.
In the Second Division, James Taylor, the 2009 Young Cricketer of the Year, scored a sublime unbeaten 206 with Australian Andrew McDonald 176 not out in an unbroken partnership of 360 before Leicestershire declared on 464 for 3 against Middlesex at Grace Road.