Adam Wheater underlined his importance to the Hampshire middle order as he led a vital counter-attack on day one of the Championship clash at Warwickshire.
The diminutive wicketkeeper eased out the popular homegrown glovesman, Michael Bates, largely down to his superior batting record.
And the former Essex man showed his worth with a punchy 91-ball 74 to dig his team out of a worrying position, while Danny Briggs (48) demonstrated that he is no mug with the bat either.
Warwickshire fast-bowler Boyd Rankin seized career-best figures (six for 75) as the visitors were bowled out for 319.
But both sides will probably feel they should have done better on an absorbing first day of Championship cricket.
With Hampshire put into bat, they reached 94 without loss as Jimmy Adams (53) and Liam Dawson (38) – promoted to open the innings – built a solid foundation.
But they lost six wickets in the afternoon session, four of them to Rankin who ended with five or more wickets in an innings for only the seventh time in his first-class career.
The 30-year-old is determined to add to his one ill-fated Test appearance for England (the last match in the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash) so far.
And if he continues to bowl with the pace and accuracy he exhibited, he could well force himself back into the national team picture.
Rankin’s work forced Hampshire into retreat and it took a bold counter-attack from Wheater to leave the match, on a good batting pitch, evenly-poised after the first day.
At lunch, Warwickshire might have reflected they would have been better off losing the first toss of the season.
Last year, against Sussex, they chose to bat and before lunch were 87 all out. This time they bowled and Jimmy Adams and Liam Dawson took Hampshire to the interval at 89 without loss.
Warwickshire’s attack, without the injured Chris Woakes, struggled for line early on but improved significantly, led by Rankin and Chris Wright.
After Wright trapped Dawson lbw, Rankin struck twice as Adams edged to second slip and James Vince (eight) fell lbw.
Michael Carberry, a habitual plunderer of Warwickshire with a first-class average of 54.50 against them, advanced dangerously to 42 (82 balls) but then played on to Wright.
When Rankin yorked Will Smith (12) and had Sean Ervine (nought) caught in the cordon, six wickets had fallen for 100 runs in 33 overs.
Rankin quickly added the wicket of Gareth Berg (eight) after tea but Wheater lifted Jeetan Patel for six on his way to 50 from 60 balls.
Wheater and Briggs added 103 in 22 overs before the former edged Barker to slip.
Briggs became Rankin’s sixth victim, lbw, leaving Warwickshire four overs of batting.
But Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood negotiated them safely, adding 14 runs to set the game up for day two.