Opener Michael Carberry returned to Canterbury to haunt his old county with his first century of the Championship division two season.
The 32-year-old, who spent three seasons at the St Lawrence ground before heading south in 2005, hit a campaign-best 137 not out to help Hampshire post 263 for three on the opening day.
Carberry lost opening-partner Jimmy Adams (8) early on and saw James Vince (8) depart leg before after tea.
But, either side of Vince’s dismissal, he featured in a second-wicket stand worth 146 in 56.3 overs with Liam Dawson.
And then, in the final session, Carberry enjoyed an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership with Sean Ervine (24) that added a further 71 runs through to the close.
Batting first, having won the toss on another hot day in the south east, Hampshire’s top order initially struggled to score at anything much above two runs an over on a slow and unresponsive pitch.
The only wicket to fall before lunch came in the 13th over when Adams, driving loosely against Charlie Shreck, picked out Daniel Bell-Drummond for a catch at short extra-cover to make it 31 for one.
Dawson and Carberry combined to bat beyond the tea interval.
Although, in terms of entertainment, it was a day for the purists as Kent’s attack, shorn of Mitch Claydon, Mark Davies and Matt Coles, sent down 17 maidens between them in the opening two sessions.
Dawson overtook Carberry to be first to his half century, from 124 balls and with five fours, in the 50th over.
Carberry, however, reached the milestone in the following over – from 142 deliveries and with six boundaries.
There was brief respite from the visitors’ backs-to-the-wall batting when Kent introduced part-time wrist-spinner Brendan Nash, whose two overs went for 23 – including consecutive straight sixes to Carberry – before he was swiftly withdrawn from the attack.
Kent skipper James Tredwell thought he had snared Dawson just before tea for 71 when he and Rob Key appealed for a bat-pad catch at leg slip.
Dawson turned in the crease and appeared to be walking towards the pavilion, only to stop and sit on his bat handle from where umpire Steve Gale, correctly, adjudged him not out having seen the ball balloon off the right-hander’s thigh pad.
Dawson went soon after the resumption for 75, however, leg before when a near yorker-length ball from Darren Stevens struck him on the boot to make it 177 for two.
Vince fell in similar circumstances 15 runs on when he missed a Haggett off-cutter.
After five hours at the crease, Carberry posted his 28th first-class hundred and his first in the County Championship since September 2011.
He reached the landmark with a back-foot cut for four against Philander, having faced 219 balls and after hitting 11 fours and a brace of sixes.
Kent barely threatened to dislodge him or Ervine thereafter as the visitors saw off the last six overs of the day, bowled with the second new ball, without alarm.