Steven Finn took four of 15 wickets to fall on an opening day dominated by the ball as Middlesex and Durham began their LV= County Championship match at Lord's.
The England fast bowler finished with figures of 4/46 - watched on by National Selector Geoff Miller - as Durham were dismissed for just 143 on a pitch favouring the seamers.
The title-chasing hosts fell to 88/5 in response though, before finishing the happier of the two sides on 126/5.
Tim Murtagh, Corey Collymore and Gareth Berg all took two wickets apiece - Durham captain Paul Collingwood top scoring with just 30.
Middlesex had his opposite number Neil Dexter to thank for their position of ascendancy at stumps though, the club captain finishing unbeaten on 40 with Berg making a brisk 28 at the other end.
Saturday is Ladies Day at Lord's, with both women and under 16s admitted to the Home of Cricket for free.