At the end of another day which was an undoubted credit to English county cricket Lancashire had reached 252-9 and therefore trail Division One leaders Durham by 18 runs with just one first innings wicket in hand.
The highlight of the entertainment at Old Trafford on this second day was, yet again, another cultured innings by V V S Laxman, who followed his centuries against Yorkshire and Hampshire with a patient 87, made off 193 balls, as Luke Sutton's side recovered from 123-6 courtesy of an 84-run partnership between the Hyderabad captain and Kyle Hogg, who made a valuable 42.
See the highlights and our interview with VVS Laxman tomorrow on www.Lancs.TV
And even when both these batsmen had been dismissed, Red Rose debutant Tom Lungley and England Lions left-arm spinner Gary Keedy shared an unbroken last-wicket partnership of 39 to leave the game beautifully balanced going into the third day.
"It was quite tough to bat today because of the slow nature of the wicket and because it was turning for Ian Blackwell," said Laxman after the end of the absorbing day's cricket. "It was a pitch where you had to play yourself in and play a patient innings.
"We had two quality spinners in our side in Gary Keedy and Stephen Parry and so we wanted to use that advantage in this match. Hopefully we'll come out on top at the end of the four days."
Laxman also praised the contribution of Mal Loye who made a 101-ball 60 and helped him add 85 for the third wicket.
"Mal played really well, " he said. "He has been so consistent for the team in the last six or seven games, but I think Hoggy played very well too. He applied himself and showed a lot of determination at a very important time.
"I wanted to bat the whole day and it was very disappointing when I hit that full toss to mid wicket. It meant that I was unable to fulfil the goal that I had set for myself which was to be there at the close of play. I think if I had done that we would have passed Durham's total by the close of play."
Perhaps so, but the standing ovation Laxman received from the Old Trafford crowd reflected their understanding of his contribution.
The Durham honours were taken by Ian Blackwell who took a season's best six for 85, five of them lbws, but the left armer's persistence and accuracy were matched by the artistry and class of Laxman whose 87 was at the heart of the home side's response to the visitors' first innings total of 270.
It was Laxman who had helped Mal Loye repair the Lancashire innings after the home side had lost two wickets for 16 runs in the first eight overs of the morning. The calmness of their partnership was only punctured when Loye was struck a fearful blow in the box by Onions.
Ouch! Mal Loye takes a painful blow during his innings of 60
By lunch the pair had taken the total to 80 and their partnership to 65 with Loye reaching his third successive Championship half-century with a massively authoritative pull for six off a Liam Plunkett long-hop.
But the complexion of the match was transformed in an eight-over period in mid-afternoon as Lancashire lost four wickets for 22 runs. Loye was the first to depart when he top-edged a pull off a short delivery from Blackwell which turned and bounced more than the batsman expected.
The decline of the Lancashire innings acclerated when Blackwell had three lbw appeals answered in the affirmative by Neil Mallender in the space of five balls. Mark Chilton was sent on his way when he played no shot, Francois du Plessis went back but was beaten by a quicker one and Luke Sutton was attempting a sweep.
On 123 for six, Lancashire were in danger of conceding a cripplingly large first-innings lead but Laxman's strokeplay remained both tranquil and assertive as he added 47 runs with Kyle Hogg before a belated tea was taken.
Laxman and Hogg had extended their seventh-wicket partnership to 84 when the Hyderabad captain swatted medium-pacer Dale Benkenstein to mid-wicket where Plunkett leapt to his left take an outstanding one-handed catch.
Hogg and Newby became Blackwell and Mallender's fourth and fifth lbw victims of the day as Lancashire appeared likely to begin the second half of this absorbing game still well in arrears, but Red Rose debutant Tom Lungley and England Lions left-arm spinner Gary Keedy had other ideas and were batting competently at the close of play.
[Day 1 Report]
Photos: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd