For two sessions, West Indies, debilitated by the IPL, were routinely preyed upon by England. Six wickets down for 138 shortly before tea, their plight was there for all to see. Things were so bad, it was hard to be optimistic about the future for West Indies Test cricket. Then Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy organised a recovery that made a mockery of what had gone before.
The Trent Bridge pitch went flat and England, so close to achieving what would surely have been an impregnable position, went flatter. By the close their stand was worth 167 runs in 41 overs. Samuels commands respect and received warm handshakes after reaching his third Test hundred. Sammy relished driving England's bowlers to distraction especially James Anderson, whose frustrated commentary on his unorthodoxy led the umpire, Aleem Dar, to intervene.
Samuels reached his century in the penultimate over of the day, with a clip to long leg off Anderson for only his third hundred in 39 Tests. At 31, he has finally understood his potential. His previous boundary had been blissful, an easeful extra-cover drive against Tim Bresnan, proof in a single shot that if he maintains the discipline he has shown in this series there can still be many more.
Once again, DRS proved its worth. The umpire, Asad Rauf, gave out Samuels lbw to Bresnan when he had only made a single, only for replays to suggest on West Indies' review that the ball was way too high.
Sammy, 88 not out from 121 balls at the close, has also answered his critics - although in Anderson's case they were prone to answering back. He has been characterised as a one-day cricketer in charge of a Test side, not quite good enough to prosper as a third seamer and reliant upon a rough-hewn batting style that prevents his promotion above No. 8.
But his innings had an endearing simplicity. He is the most convivial of biffers, a batsman of prodigious strength. Even block drives fly off his bat with meaning and when he puts his body into it, he has the strength of a coal miner. He can punish off-colour attacks and England, who conceded 106 in 23 overs up to the new ball, should be wary of the message. Bresnan, preferred to Steven Finn, might have won all his 12 Tests for England but he is a lucky charm in need of a polish.
When Sammy muscled Trott over mid-on after reaching his 50, one sensed that he did not believe he had a prayer against the second new ball. But he survived it, grinning at two midwicket whips against Anderson which flew to the third man boundary, smiling again (more sheepishly) at a perilous leave.
Their stand was the highest seventh-wicket partnership for West Indies against England and in Tests at Trent Bridge, surpassing the achievement of Collie Smith and John Goddard in 1957 - another alliance between a captain and a Jamaican. There are no better statistics than those that connect the generations.
It had all looked so different. West Indies opted for the offspin of Shane Shillingford in the expectation that he would come into his own on the last two days, especially with the hot forecast. The only challenge was exactly how they intended to reach them. By the morning drinks they were three wickets down for 42 and the doleful figure of Shivnarine Chanderpaul came out to the middle to sip a refreshment he did not need and observe a scoreboard he did not want.
Anderson had a hand in all four morning wickets, dismissing Kirk Edwards and Darren Bravo in an opening spell of 9-4-22-2 and holding two slip catches as Stuart Broad accounted for the openers, Adrian Barath, without scoring, and Kieran Powell for 33.
Anderson has an outstanding Test record at Trent Bridge, 33 wickets at 17 runs each going into the Test. He was initially so content that he might have won an advertising contract for camomile tea, although while he held slip catches for Broad, others were spurning them off his own bowling. Long before the close he looked as if he had overdosed on caffeine.
Broad struck first: Barath edging a back-foot force in his second over and Anderson pulling off a nonchalant, fast, one-handed catch at third slip. For his own bowling, England's fielding lacked the same grace. He might have dismissed Edwards for a single, but Bresnan erred in the same position.
Edwards' tour of England has been a difficult one. He scored a century on Test debut against India last year, but he has yet to reach double figures on tour. Anderson jagged one back through the gate as once more he seemed late on the shot. He switched around the wicket to persuade Bravo to prod a wide-ish delivery to Graeme Swann at second slip.
And so, with indecent haste, it was time for Chanderpaul. He dug in for nearly ten-and-a-half hours at Lord's, but Anderson's bouncer almost dislodged him first ball as the ball flew off his arm guard and over the wicketkeeper, Matt Prior. An edge in Anderson's next over flew at catchable height between Bresnan's half dive and Swann's crouch as neither locked on to the coordinates. Broad completed an excellent morning's work by England as Powell edged a good-length delivery to Anderson at third slip.
England, who reduced West Indies to 79 for 4 by lunch, squeezed them dry in the first hour of the afternoon. Chanderpaul and Samuels added 13 runs in as many overs before Chanderpaul's unwieldy straight drive brought the first boundary of the afternoon. He had nine boundaries, including a few covert flicks and edges and even a couple of drives, before Swann intervened.
Swann's reputation has blossomed since he made his Test debut for England less than four years ago, but to be an England spinner on his home ground at Trent Bridge had been to feel like the unwanted child. Finally, after two Tests in which he was limited to 17 overs, he had a wicket against his name. His toy to play with was Chanderpaul: not so much Action Man as Inaction Man but invaluable for all that.
Chanderpaul fell for 46, as Swann found first-day turn around off-stump and struck him on the back leg to have him lbw, but only after a successful review. "Nearly there," thought England as Bresnan bowled Denesh Ramdin. But nearly was not quite enough.