Hampshire 172 and 17 for 2 trail Essex 435 (Lawrence 124, Chopra 61, ten Doeschate 55, Wheater 52, Abbott 5-90) by 246 runs
Kyle Abbott followed up his lone bowling resistance against Essex by accusing Hampshire's batsmen of being fearful as they faced the threat of an innings defeat at Chelmsford.
"I think the boys are a bit scared," said Abbott, the former South Africa pace bowler. "It's just a confidence thing in this format. It isn't just this game, it's been happening for a while now. I get a feeling that they're scared and not backing ourselves and it's showing in our scores.
"It's disappointing after coming in from a great win last week. It certainly has been the pattern over the last couple of years. Since I've been at Hampshire we've had a tendency to be on top of the world one week and down at the bottom the next. I'm not too sure where the problem lies, but we're certainly working on it."
Big-spending Hampshire also had an unsuccessful season in the Vitality Blast despite being regarded as one of the favourites for a tournament in which they have generally excelled.
Peter Siddle helped Essex tightened their stranglehold over Hampshire as he claimed two second-innings wickets after the follow-on was enforced at Chelmsford.
Hampshire were all out for 172 in 79 overs, 263 runs behind Essex's 435. And, second time around, they lost Joe Weatherley, bowled without scoring, to Siddle's fifth ball and Jimmy Adams in the Australian's second over, pushing forward to a straight delivery.
At the close of the third day, Hampshire were 17 for 2, still 246 runs away from suffering an innings defeat.
After a season of travails which has left them looking over their shoulders, the reigning Specsavers County Champions revived memories of last season's successes when they piled on first-innings runs before rolling over the opposition twice with the ball.
Sam Cook was Essex's chief wicket-taker with 3 for 27, while Simon Harmer wheeled away for 31 overs, taking 2 for 52. At one point he had bowled 20 overs for 20 runs, and that including a six from James Vince.
The Hampshire captain, released from Test duty by England on Wednesday, had climbed off his sick bed and stood alone on the bridge for more than two hours as wickets fell all around him.
Vince, who had not fielded in the morning, nor taken his usual place at first wicket down, suffering from a stomach bug, came in at No. 5 and stifled his natural instincts. He hung around for 96 balls while eking out 26 runs.
The first-innings collapse started in the fourth over when Adams was bowled by Cook for 1. And in the 11 overs that followed they lost two more to go to lunch at 44 for 3.
Ian Holland, replacing Vince at No. 3, went in the first of Harmer's marathon 27-over stint, punctuated only by lunch and tea, bowled by one that turned and struck middle-stump. Then on the stroke of the interval Sam Northeast was pouched at slip off Siddle.
Vince soon lost opener Weatherley, shuffling across in front of his stumps and was lbw to Siddle for 32. Tom Alsop had just driven Cook to the boundary, but played no shot as the next ball struck off-stump.
Vince and Rilee Rossouw then put down roots for 17 overs. The sixth-wicket pair were becalmed for 37 deliveries after the departure of Alsop, with the South African taking 19 balls to get off the mark.
They had added 25 before Harmer got one to turn square and Rossouw planted the ball into Nick Browne's hands at short midwicket. Gareth Berg clipped lazily low to Browne in the same position to give Ravi Bopara the first of two wickets. His second, via a wide half-volley, was that of Vince, who failed to move his feet and gave Harmer catching practice at second slip.
The largest stand of the innings was the 36 put on for the ninth wicket between Abbott and Liam Dawson.
Essex had added 72 in 11 overs in the morning to claim maximum batting points for the first time this season. However, it was not until the third ball of the 110th over that Siddle deposited Kyle Abbott over cow corner for the six that took Essex from 398 to 404.
Job done, Siddle departed two balls later, lbw to give Abbott his fifth wicket at a personal cost of 90, but too late to give Hampshire a final bowling point.
Dan Lawrence's 210-ball stay for 124 ended in the next over when he turned Holland off his legs into sub Aneurin Donald's hands at long leg.