Lancashire's final pre-season friendly ended in a low-key draw at Old Trafford when the home side were bowled out for 181 in their first innings in reply to Durham's impressive 349 for 7 declared.
On the brighter side of life, however, Jimmy Anderson top scored with 34 and also confirmed his return to fitness after the injury he suffered on England duty in South Africa, and Paul Horton and Ashwell Prince both batted usefully to make 30 each.
Overall, though, the failures of several other batsmen made it a disappointing conclusion to a programme of matches that has been full of encouraging signs for Old Trafford supporters and Head Coach Peter Moores accepted that his side had been second best to the champions over the two days.
"I don't think we played as well as could have yesterday," he said. "We weren't as aggressive in the field as we normally are and that's an area we'll look to tighten up on before Thursday.
"To give Durham credit they bowled well today and we played some loose shots and that's also something we'll also look to tighten up on. I think we'd be disappointed over the two days that we didn't play better but we're also realistic that we play a practice game to get ourselves ready to go on Thursday."
However, the travails of a couple of bad days in the office will fade pretty quickly if Lancashire make a good start against Warwickshire in next Thursday's Championship match. More serious by far is the long term injury suffered by Gary Keedy who was due to have an operation on his broken collarbone on Friday evening.
"It's a real shame for Gary because he's been bowling really well, and unfortunately, it's a nasty injury," said Moores. "Hopefully, within two to three weeks he'll be able to start doing some training and stuff like that, but it's a long term injury because the shoulder's got to settle down and get strong again."
While Keedy is making what everyone hopes is a swift recovery, Moores believes that young slow left-armers Stephen Parry and Simon Kerrigan can play key roles for the Red Rose side. Nor did the Old Trafford coach rule out using Steven Croft's off-spin as the season unfolds.
However, the most obvious like-for-like replacements for Keedy are either Parry, who played two Championship games last season, or Simon Kerrigan, who has yet to play first-class cricket.
"We're lucky in some ways in that we've got Stephen Parry who played quite a lot of first team cricket last season," said Moores, "but we've also got Simon Kerrigan who bowled beautifully to take six wickets in the pre-season game against Yorkshire in Barbados. And we could also use Steven Croft's off-spin.
"We've got some good options on the staff and it will create opportunities for somebody else. Both Simon and Steven have developed, they're both emerging players, they've both got natural strengths and they're keen to make their mark in county cricket. "Stephen Parry stood up to the pressures of playing first team cricket last season while Simon bowled a long spell on his first team debut in Barbados and created problems for some experienced players and that bodes well for the future. Crofty's an option because when he gets it right, he get's real shape on the ball."
Whoever Moores chooses to replace Keedy has a big job on his hands. The 35-year old spinner was an ever-present in the 2009 Championship side, taking 42 wickets in 16 games and often playing an important role in other bowlers' successes when batsmen attempted to escape the shackles he had placed on them.
But after a tough day for Lancashire, Moores did not attempt to disguise his delight at Jimmy Anderson's successful return. "Jimmy's come through really well and bowled beautifully in his last spell," he said. "By then, he was hitting his length, hitting his areas and had a nice easy rhythm."
Photo: Simon Pendrigh
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd