Lyth begins strongly in Yorkshire's long quest for parity
Yorkshire 127 for 1 (Lyth 80*) trail Somerset 562 for 7 dec (Hildreth 166, Trescothick 97, Trego 94, Rogers 51, Allenby 51, Rashid 4-160) by 435 runs
To suggest that Adam Lyth and Alex Lees were facing a minor crisis when they opened Yorkshire's innings on a placid Taunton pitch would be a slight exaggeration. Yorkshire, after all, entered this round of matches one point ahead at the top of Division One as they seek to become the first team to win a hat-trick of titles since they achieved just that 48 years ago. Most would settle for that.
Nevertheless, it felt like a telling moment. Yorkshire, to general agreement, have yet to hit their straps this season, and Joe Root and, in particular, Jonny Bairstow, last season's perpetual batting get-out clause, are now occupied with England. Somerset's 562 for 7 conveyed the feeling that there were runs to be had, but it was not a time for fripperies.
Yorkshire's prime concern was to avoid the follow-on figure of 413, and Lyth's unbeaten 80 fulfilled their needs as they closed solidly on 127 for 1, but at the current rate of progress of 2.50 an over, security would not be achieved until the final morning. It would be difficult to conjure up something from that.
Unless Somerset prosper, it is hard to see how this match is going anywhere other than the draw column which is where most matches have ended up this season. Flatter pitches have not been without a certain amount of spectator pain.
The first half of the day was pleasing fare nonetheless - the completion of the serenest of hundreds by James Hildreth and another excellent ninetysomething from Peter Trego - the third of the innings. Among the Somerset supporters there was contentment, but Yorkshire's travelling supporters were not enchanted by fielding lapses that included overthrows, balls careering cruelly off newly-laid drains past despairing hands, and some limping from the captain, Andrew Gale, who went into the match with a bruised knee. A little bit of grouching was reported outside the Ring O' Bells pub.
"Flat," said Hildreth - 166 from 217 balls. "Tough," said Adil Rashid, who emerged with 4 for 140.
A vigilant opening stand of 103 in 41 overs reflected the seriousness of Yorkshire's task, at which point Lees, whose laborious 33 had been assembled from 122 balls - half the score of his partner from the same amount of strike - drove at Jamie Overton and was caught at second slip. He left with a frustrated kick of the air: hard work that had brought limited reward.
The appearance of Will Rhodes at No. 3 emphasised the extent of Yorkshire's challenge. Rhodes, a 21-year-old, is fancied to kick on with bat and ball this season, but first drop is a big challenge all the same. Last season, Gary Ballance and Jack Leaning shared the role, but both are down the order. Rhodes survived: a big task ahead.
Yorkshire's position could have been more unstable if Somerset had held their catches in the hour before tea. Lyth might have fallen for 2 had Tim Groenewald been able to hold a stooping catch in his follow-through in his first over - and second of the innings. Left-arm spinner Jack Leach also deserved Lees' wicket, on 7, when Jim Allenby grassed a comfortable chance at second slip, enough to spark his detractors in front of the Colin Atkinson pavilion into another impromptu routine.
Most encouraging for Somerset was the form of Jamie Overton. The Big O looked by far the quickest pace bowler in the match, and bowled with decent control, too, putting Lyth on the seat of his pants as he evaded one delivery and beating him on the drive on several occasions. Lees was even more circumspect against him. He is an imposing and rough-hewn figure, looking as if he has arisen for a game of cricket from Giant's Chair, on Grabbist Hill, where on a clear day you can see all the way to Dunkery Beacon.
Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire's head coach, had even pronounced himself "a happy coach" after Somerset closed the first day on 342 for 4, inviting the thought that by the time they declared at 562 for 7 he must have been beside himself with ecstasy.
Somerset rattled up another 220 from 42 overs before declaring 40 minutes after lunch, a hard-fought opening hour giving way to batting dominance. Trego's 94 continued a run of productive form before his derring-do against Rashid caused his downfall - a catch at the wicket with a hundred in his sights. As forearms as thickly coloured as an artist's palette swung heartily, he scattered the inhabitants of a hospitality box in the Botham Stand and also christened the new pavilion with the first blow onto the upper tier.
Overton, promoted up the order for a slog, put Steven Patterson into the River Tone before holing out against the same bowler at deep midwicket. Rashid is unlikely to be enamoured by the thought that it is Leach, not himself, who is most likely to be bowling on the fourth afternoon. Not that many of the locals anticipate fierce turn - like Neil Sedaka, this Taunton square finds that Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps