Whether viewed literally or metaphorically, the first month of the 2012 season has not been short of grey afternoons for Lancashire, and the third day of the game against Nottinghamshire did nothing whatever to vary the pattern.
With a slate sky threatening more rain than it delivered and the ubiquitous cranes clanking in the background, Chris Read's batsmen extended their overnight 122 for two to a very formidable 304 and had then reduced Glen Chapple's side to 39 for five when bad light ended play 21 overs early.
Lancashire, therefore, require another 289 runs to win. It is difficult to see how anything other than yet more bad weather will prevent Read's men wrapping up matters tomorrow.
However, while the day will be viewed as one in which Nottinghamshire batsmen carved out an advantage which their bowlers ruthlessly rammed home, Friday's cricket did contain some fragments of comfort for Lancashire's players and supporters.
Chief among these was the bowling of James Anderson, who recovered from the injury and illness which had dogged his first two days of county cricket this year to take five for 82 as Nottinghamshire collapsed from 265 for four to 304 all out in less then eleven overs.
And, since cricket is an environment for personal duels within the context of a team game, Anderson was pleased to remove one England colleague when a mid-on catch off Simon Kerrigan got rid of Stuart Broad for 12.
Then he was quietly delighted to bowl Graeme Swann for the same score, although his celebrations were very much more understated than the off-spinner's had been yesterday when he bowled Anderson first ball. "At least we'll have something else to talk about when we're in the England dressing-room this summer," said Burnley's finest.
Anderson, then, had a good day, as did Simon Kerrigan, who took three for 77, and also Luke Procter, even though he only had the wicket of Samit Patel to show for a gutsy spell in which he had taken on the third seamer's role very capably in the absence of the injured Tom Smith.
But for all that Chapple's bowlers performed manfully, they found the broad bats of Nottinghamshire's middle order to be formidable obstacles as the Midlands side built on a slender 23-run first-innings lead and turned it into a decisive advantage.
The first session saw Nottinghamshire add 73 runs in 30 overs against accurate Lancashire bowling and the sometimes slow tempo of the cricket only reinforced the importance of the morning's play.
Michael Lumb and Samit Patel had extended their overnight partnership to 79 when Patel was caught behind for 39 attempting to drive Luke Procter. That success, which was achieved after exactly an hour's play, was followed three overs later when Lumb was surprised by Anderson's bounce and edged the England seamer to Paul Horton, who took a chest high catch.
However, the Nottinghamshire No3 could return to the pavilion knowing that his 262-minute vigil for 63 runs had helped his team build a formidable lead, which James Taylor and Chris Read had extended to 208 at the interval when Nottinghamshire were 195 for four.
In the afternoon session Horton dropped both batsmen at first slip and the pair had extended their partnership to exactly 100 when Taylor was caught behind down the leg side when flicking at Kerrigan.
Anderson dominated the rest of the cricket either side of a brief rain break with the pick of his wickets being that of Read, who was brilliantly caught off the inside edge by Gareth Cross for 54, the Notts skipper's sixth fifty against Lancashire.
The remaining 15.2 overs of the day must have been hard watching for Lancashire supporters as they huddled together for warmth in front of the Old Trafford Lodge with only pemmican and broth for comfort.
Broad's bounce accounted for Horton, who was caught by Swann off the second ball of the innings, and his accuracy took care of Karl Brown, who was lbw for seven.
Twelve runs later Stephen Moore played a textbook forward defensive shot to Andre Adams, but unfortunately missed the ball with the bat, and Swann then had Prince caught at slip by Alex Hales for 14.
Steven Croft fended an Adams lifter to Read to complete Lancashire's misery. Chapple's players have had better days at the building site. Entrance to the game on the fourth day is free.
Day 1 Report I Day 2 Report
Phot: Simon Pendrigh