Hampshire have found batting points hard to harvest this season but they exploited a depleted Warwickshire attack to amass 304 for four on the opening day at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire captain Ian Bell is yet to win a contested one in the County Championship this season.
And that run continued as Will Smith chose to bat on a firm track and Liam Dawson, in particular, made hay.
Fresh from impressing with the ball on his England twenty20 debut against Sri Lanka at the Ageas Bowl, he showed his ability with the bat during the early skirmishes of this division one battle.
His eighth first-class hundred – 116 from 200 balls with 13 fours and a six – gave relegation-threatened Hampshire a solid foundation from which to push for a much-needed victory.
It was a composed century, completed from the first ball with the second new ball and compiled against an attack deprived of a key man after Boyd Rankin suffered a back-strain during his first over.
Without Rankin, an attack already missing Chris Woakes, Mark Adair and Chris Wright – absent through a mixture of international duty and injury – had to soldier on with just three senior bowlers.
Expectations of a turning pitch led to both teams selecting two spinners. And with seamer Ryan McLaren ruled out by a hamstring strain, Hampshire recalled 19-year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane, whose maiden first-class five-wicket haul sent Warwickshire hurtling to defeat at the Ageas Bowl last August.
Spin was deployed with the match just 19 minutes old as Jeetan Patel, fresh from taking 10 wickets against Surrey last week, was introduced for the sixth over.
Patel delivered 34 balls before conceding a run but the first-day turn was never sharp.
Keith Barker broke the opening stand at 35 when an inswinger trapped Will Smith leg before wicket. Jimmy Adams eked 14 runs from 87 balls before pulling Patel straight to mid-wicket.
Dawson and Tom Alsop added 81 in 24 overs only for 20-year-old Alsop, having hit six fours and a six in a knock of 50, to top-edge leg-spinner Josh Poysden to mid-off.
Dawson found further support from Adam Wheater, who reached the close unbeaten on 89 from 125 balls with 12 fours and a six.
However, their stand of 155 in 39 overs was ended when Barker trapped Dawson in front five overs before the close.
Hampshire will now need to press home their advantage on day two.