Northamptonshire 172 for 2 (Duckett 94*) lead Kent 167 (Denly 50, Haggett 49, Stone 4-59) by five runs
Kent's woeful batting display ensured that the opening day of their 164th Canterbury Week - the world's oldest domestic cricket festival - will not linger long in the memory as visitors Northamptonshire bossed proceedings from start until stumps.
After dismissing their LV= Championship second division hosts inside two sessions for a paltry 167, Northamptonshire went in at the close sitting pretty on 172 for 2 after only 44 overs of their reply and with a lead of five going into the second day.
Having arrived in the hop county less than fresh from an overnight coach from Northampton following Monday night's Royal London Cup win over Somerset at Wantage Road, the visitors made light of their fatigue and losing the toss to dominate all three sessions.
Despite resting four major players, Northamptonshire looked the fresher and brighter of the two sides from ball one and Kent were made to pay.
Kent's rout started in the first over of the match when Daniel Bell-Drummond marked his 22nd birthday with a fourth-ball duck. Though he survived two leg before shouts, he pushed hard at an Olly Stone leg-cutter and nicked it low to Richard Levi who clung on to a low chance at second slip.
Conditions worsened, but few anticipated the mini collapse that saw Kent lose three wickets for one run in the space of 10 deliveries following the introduction of Maurice Chambers at the Pavilion End.
The former Essex paceman accounted for Rob Key, then, to the next delivery, Sam Northeast shouldered arms to lose his off stump for a duck. Ben Harmison was also trying to withdraw the bat in the next over from Azharullah, but only succeeded in deflecting the ball onto the stumps to go for 1.
Joe Denly and Darren Stevens dug in either side of the break with Denly reaching an attractive 68-ball half-century with nine fours, but with his side's score on 83 Denly departed and the remaining home batters were unable to even double the total thereafter.
Five balls after posting his 50 Denly played across one from the impressive Stone to go lbw and four runs later Sam Billings swished across the line of a full ball to go lbw to the same bowler.
After a scratchy start Stevens punished anything loose to reach 34 before he miscued an over-ambitious drive on the up into the hands of Rob Keogh at extra cover before James Tredwell and Matt Coles went cheaply to leave Calum Haggett to save face with a valiant 49 off 75 balls.
In a mammoth 44-over final session Northamptonshire's top order proved there were no demons in the pitch as they cantered along at over 3.5 an over for the loss of only two wickets.
Kent made their first breakthrough with 105 on the board when David Murphy miscued a leg-side clip against Tredwell to midwicket for 42, but at the other end Ben Duckett cantered to a 36-ball half-century with 10 boundaries.
He lost third-wicket partner Alex Wakely when he feathered a defensive prod against Matt Hunn through to the keeper, but it proved Kent's final success of the day as Murphy closed six short of a hundred together with Keogh on 11 not out.
Kent vs Northants
LV= County Championship Division Two
England Domestic Season